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Somehow, The Bush Administration Sinks Even Lower

I know, I know, you've heard it before--but this might set a new standard for Bush administration bureaucratic misconduct. There's another report (pdf) out today from the Justice Department's Inspector General concluding that the administration illegally screened applicants for career positions (not political appointees) based on partisan and ideological criteria. Monica Goodling, the White House liaison to the Justice Department and hyper-partisan Republican, asked questions such as the following to job applicants (p. 17):

-- Tell us about your political philosophy. There are different groups of conservatives, by way of example: Social Conservative, Fiscal Conservative, Law & Order Republican.

-- Why are you a Republican? 

-- Aside from the President, give us an example of someone currently or recently in public service who you admire.

-- [W]hat is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?

(I don't know, his dreamy eyes and love of animals?) When one applicant responded that he admired Condoleezza Rice, Goodling "frowned" and remarked, "But she's pro-choice." It's frankly hard to know where to begin here. Worrying that a career employee at the Department of Justice might not immediately condemn the abortion-rights views of the secretary of state of one particular administration? The breezy conflation of partisanship, ideology, and personal loyalty to the president? The fact that Goodling has acknowledged she knew she was breaking the law but says she "didn't mean to"? What's most depressing is that, in the words of the report (p. 59), "Even candidates personally offered positions by the Deputy Attorney General were required to be interviewed by and receive the approval of Goodling before they could begin their details." That is, a low-level political appointee who apparently has the IQ of a turtle, with no actual experience practicing law, was given veto power over the hiring of career officials throughout the entire Department of Justice. Has there ever been an administration with less interest in competently executing the day-to-day functions of the federal government?

Update: To answer several commenters' questions, Goodling (as I understand it) won't be prosecuted because she received immunity from the House Judiciary Committee in order to prevent her from taking the Fifth when she testified. One hopes that someone further up the food chain might have to face the music, but it's unclear what sort of evidence there is linking anyone else to her misconduct.

--Josh Patashnik