Saturday, September 30, 2006

Bob Woodward and the TSA

Bob Woodward has published his ninth or tenth version of All the President's Men - that is not exactly true but how else would you explain the "journalistic" work of a guy who has spent a career of working on what Former Mayor Richard Daley used to call "insinuendo?" Indeed, there have been divisions in the administration about the policy in Iraq and also it is clear that some of the decisions made by the Bush administration do not seem to have been the best in hindsight. That is the power of hindsight. At the same time, personalities that work for the president do not seem to all 'just be friends' - but so what? Bush's policies can and should be analyzed and criticized but Woodward seems to have made a career, after ATPM, on writing about small differences in personality and politics. Is the administration still committed to the outlines of the Iraq policy we started several years ago? Of course. Have there been adjustments in that policy? Yes.

Why in the world should I tie this to the TSA? A good deal of what any political city works on is gossip. Gossip has a much higher chance of being important in inverse relationship to how much energy a person puts into their labor. As I was going through the Seattle Airport this morning I counted, just for fun, the number of PSA with TSA uniforms. By my count, and being very generous, there was a ratio of about 1:3 (PSA - People Standing Around/Transportation Security Administration personnel). That seems like a pretty rich staffing ratio. I am sure it all worked out with a formula. As I got through my line I was able to listen to three employees discussing whether the female in the group should wear her hair up or down and whether that would make her more or less "sexy" to one of the other PSAs. Were this done by the private sector, the work flows would have been carefully analyzed and there would be fewer PSAs. I fault the administration and the GOP in Congress for giving up on a principle of the benefits of the market based alternatives. But that does not mean I will read the entire Woodward book. I read enough of it in the Seattle Post Intelligencer to understand that I had read the book before - only the names and the situations were changed.

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