Via TPMmuckraker, I see the LA Times has a story on the one fired prosecutor who really was fired for incompetence. And, BIG SURPRISE, he was a loyal Bushie with strong Republican ties. Here are just a few choice quotes from the Times article:
"You would have to know Kevin," said UC Hastings College of the Law professor Rory Little. "You can't find a stronger supporter of the Bush administration agenda."
In an e-mail from D. Kyle Sampson, the former chief of staff to Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales, to Harriet Miers in March 2005, Ryan was in a category described as "strong U.S. Attorneys who have produced, managed well, and exhibited loyalty to the President and Attorney General."
"If you disagreed with him on an issue, you were disloyal," said one former federal prosecutor who left the San Francisco office.
Instead, Ryan once got into trouble for stepping out of place by issuing a press release that praised new sentencing guidelines for steroid cases.
Some lawyers in San Francisco speculated that Ryan hung on so long because of strong political connections. One of them, Gerald Parsky, a Los Angeles-based Republican fundraiser who vetted federal appointments in California for the Bush administration, quickly came to Ryan's aid….The e-mail warned that Parsky was scheduled for lunch with Bush the following week.
In an e-mail to Sampson, Elston said Ryan's former deputy had called and assured him that Ryan was not returning telephone calls from Feinstein or Carol Lam, the ousted U.S. attorney in San Diego.
"He wanted us to know that he's still a 'company man,' '' Elston wrote.
Loyalty v. Competence
There are lots of ways to evaluate and reward employees. It just depends on what it is you’re wanting to reward. And sometimes, people are rewarded for stupid things that happen to correspond with positive behaviors. For example, many employers reward employees who are punctual and punish those who are often late. And while that can often be a silly measure to base performance on, there is often a correlation between punctuality and job performance. And many incompetent managers rely on punctuality as it’s so much easier to measure than actual job performance.
But some metrics are mutually exclusive with good job performance, and loyalty to individuals is one of them. It’s fine to be loyal to the company or government you work for, if all that requires is that you do your job competently. But when it comes to being loyal to a particular person or subgroup within the organization, things go screwy. At some point, you’ve got to decide between loyalty and doing your job, and with Republicans, they’re always at that point.
And that’s exactly what we see from Ryan here. He was a loyal supporter of Bush who demanded that his employees agree with him and who once got chewed-out for issuing a press release he wasn’t supposed to. He had strong political connections, including with the important Republican who vetted political appointments in California; though he was probably unqualified for the job. And he didn’t do the job that many of his experienced staff knew he was supposed to do. As with most incompetent people, Ryan created the job he wanted to do, rather than the one he was assigned to do. That’s one of the ways they mask their incompetence.
And so there should be no surprise that the loyal ones aren’t competent and the competent ones aren’t loyal. Those are mutually exclusive attributes. That’s not to say that a loyal person is never competent. But if loyalty is being demanded, then it’s obvious that competence isn’t enough. And for the Bushies, it was the only job attribute they cared about. As things were, they only fired Ryan because he had become a political burden.
Another interesting tidbit is when a Rove aide says in an email, "Ryan is the only one so far calling in political chits (which is reason enough to justify the [firing] decision, in my view), but Karl would like to know some particulars as he fields these calls."
Huh? Ryan calling in political chits is enough to justify a decision that was already made? But I suspect that the problem wasn’t that someone was calling on his behalf, but rather that Ryan got an important Republican upset. And now they’re put into the position of having to deny a favor to that important Republican, and to show the Republican that he really wasn’t as important as he thought he was.
As we all know, the moment Republicans hate the most is when the rubber hits the road and they see how reality really shakes out. In this case, they’d much rather Parsky feel important by having lunch with Bush, rather than to understand that those political chits he’s holding are worthless. As with all Republicans, they’re just using Parsky, and they were upset at Ryan for forcing them into a position where they had to make that fact explicit.
Again, these people are big into loyalty and it’s only a one-way street. You take the job you’re given, you perform it as you’re told, and you leave it when it’s taken away. And if you’re lucky and loyal, they’ll have some need of you in the future and grant you an even more important position to be a puppet in. All employers expect some level of loyalty from their employees, but for Republicans that loyalty extends even after they fire you. And it’s clear by the end that Ryan understood that and knew what to do. He’s a company man.