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They Burrow. I Purge.

It is as predictable a story as any post-election postmortem: Political appointees of the outgoing administration “burrowing in” to jobs in the federal civil service, securing what are usually plum assignments that career employees work toward for decades. The practice is all the more infuriating when the appointees are Republicans, the party that argues government is overgrown, inefficient, too costly and too intrusive. But they still want to work in government -- for life, if possible.

So The Post reports today that Bush administration appointees are indeed “burrowing in” to the agencies they’ve been working in -- notwithstanding that this administration’s philosophy has often been at cross-purposes with the agencies’ missions.

As it happens, the story appeared just as I was purging my files of everything that can reasonably be dumped now that President George W. Bush is on his way out and President-elect Barack Obama is on his way in. That means the following file folders, many dating to the 2000 presidential campaign, went straight into the dumpster: Bush/drugs and alcohol; Bush/cocaine; Bush/National Guard; Bush/Laura (no offense to the first lady, it’s just that I don’t think she’ll be making much news in the next two months). Also headed for the trash heap of history were my folders labeled Bush/daughters; McCain 2000; McCain 2008; and my personal favorite, Giuliani 2008. That caught my eye because the folder held but a single newspaper clipping, a suitable political epitaph for the former New York City mayor, who somehow believed he could secure the Republican presidential nomination while supporting abortion rights, endorsing gay partnerships and enjoying his third marriage -- but without competing in Iowa or New Hampshire.

The great purge has great psychic value and no monetary payoff. I only wish I could stuff the Bush burrowers into a trash bag and roll them to the curb, too.

By Marie Cocco  | November 18, 2008; 2:22 PM ET
Categories:  Cocco  | Tags:  Marie Cocco  
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I just printed this column out, balled it up and threw it in the trash. Thanks, Marie, that felt great!

Posted by: ZZim | November 18, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Is there a point to this incoherent blather? We get it.,You hate Republicans. Whoopee so do almost all of the partisan hacks at the Post.

Posted by: bobmoses | November 18, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Obama's no dummy. He'll flush out those burrowees with Emmanuel's help no doubt then batten down those Rebublican hatches.

Your files are redundancies now that everyone can peruse, ponder and probe Bush's personal CV on the net. Or rent Oliver Stone's version on dvd.

Soon you'll have Gbs filled with a wealth of stuff on Obama, Michelle, the girls, grandma Robinson; surely, you'll need a new computer just for all the Rahm Emmanuel files! Then, of course, there's Hillary. Yes, good thing you pitched the past. Here's looking to the future.

Posted by: boredwell | November 18, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Just keep an eye on the watchdog sites tracking these burrowers and report anything relevant. Best way to ensure that the administration and the public can act to remove them if need be.

Posted by: quietine | November 19, 2008 12:04 AM | Report abuse

I'm surprised Cocco didn't find a way to blame all this on the alleged sexism of everyone who voted for Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries.

Posted by: uh_huhh | November 19, 2008 4:11 AM | Report abuse

Maybe the Obama Presidency should employ Westies, Doxies, Rat Terriers,Jack Russells to go in deep and bring out those burrowers. . . would love to see that, some political hack being hauled down the street by a band of mole-digging, gopher catching, Jack Russells!

Posted by: cymric | November 19, 2008 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I look forward to the day when you get rolled to the curb as your left wing biased organization continues it's downward spiral.

Posted by: dagsboro1 | November 20, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

The latest crop of burrowers is no more or less welcome than those who burrowed in at the end of the Clinton years. Is your memory really that short, or are you just as partisan as other commenters are indicating?

Eight years of almost anything is too much.

Posted by: Towson_Tiger | November 20, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

More partisan blather.

Posted by: gary4books | November 21, 2008 5:44 AM | Report abuse

To our GOP friends who commented above: Read her second sentence.

Posted by: Bartolo | November 21, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Yes, here they are, the irresponsible right-wing bashers are out in force.

What a load of bile-filled hatred these misanthropes carry.

Too bad it's not fatal in the short-term, so we can be rid of them.

Posted by: phoenixresearch | November 21, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Amen, PhoenixResearch.

Why in the h3ll would an anti-evironmentalist want to be burrowed within the environmental agency anyway. It does not advance the agency's mission. At least the few Dem burrowers were on the same page as the agency's mission.

Just think of all the anti-science wackos burrowing into NASA, NOAA, etc. Flabbergasting.

And all these wingnuts, bobmoses, gary4books, etc are all fully aware of this.

Well, at least their hatred and bile and sanctimonius B.S. is the direct cause of the demise of the Republican party. Reasonable Americans saw thru their krap and bailed out in sufficient numbers to bring the Dems into power.


Posted by: osmor | November 21, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

You overlooked Rudy's ace in the hole in his bid for the GOP nomination: His support of gun control.

Posted by: TheProFromDover | November 21, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

The Obama administration needs to flush these Republican sleeper cells out of our government to stop the destruction and fleecing of America.

All Americans hope he makes that a top priority, since these burrowed agents of destruction will be actively working to further undermine our lawa, economy, and Constitution. Like a cancer, they must be dealt with...quickly and with extreme prejudice.

Posted by: wilder5121 | November 21, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

pretty pointless, except, I guess to deliver your punchline.

Say, aren't people in journalism supposed to save information? That is, years from now you reflect on a similar occurance back in the Bush adminstration? Or why something is better done at that time in the future?

But instead, we get this stateless journalism with no memory of the past. That explains no mention of this happening in past administrations I guess. Journalist have been reduced to blog monitors.

Posted by: jhtlag1 | November 21, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

The practice is all the more infuriating when the appointees are Republicans, the party that argues government is overgrown, inefficient, too costly and too intrusive.

Posted by: katman13 | November 21, 2008 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Burrowers suck hard. They're part of what breaks government, they do more harm than good, and it's a self-interested activity that should not be trusted at all.

Wouldn't all those folders of material you chucked be a good source of names of potential burrowers?

Posted by: timscanlon | November 22, 2008 12:00 AM | Report abuse

it's not so simple as "sorry, you're fired."
once these yahoos are in place they are protected by fed rules and regs against replacing them. it's next to impossible to get them out, no matter their level of incompetency.
as to the naysayer repugs.....Obama won, eat vomit and die scumbags!!! LOL!

Posted by: easysoul | November 22, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I say we conduct secret-police investigations, with the aid of "citizens committees"- then we take these Republican Enemies of the People into custody until we the citizens decided to send them to the guillotine. The innocent will be sent to re-education camps.

By the way, I voted for OBama, am a Liberal and am joyous over the election BUT- come on leave 'em alone, we got bigger fish to fry.

Posted by: interactidiomas | November 22, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Apparently burrowing is nothing new, although the extent of this administration's use of the practice may be. As Cocco points out, the difference here is that the appointments are of people who disagree with the agencies' respective missions. It is sabotage, nothing less. (I haven't examined the appointments -- presumably they are classified as a matter of national security -- but after witnessing 8 years of Bush duplicity and underhandedness, can anyone reasonably doubt that this is the objective?) The American people are generally supportive of the vital work of federal agencies, including environmental protection, consumer protection and law enforcement. They would no more support this undermining of federal agencies than they would have supported Bush had he been honest, beginning in 2000, about his antagonism toward even the most basic and essential government services.

Posted by: msmithnyc | November 22, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Washington Post -- Please purge and push to the curb those reporters that let the Bush disaster occur. You can start with Cocco.

The Post should realize how embarrassing it is that so many HUGE, ENORMOUS, CATASTROPHIC administrational failures have happened and the Post has so, so, so little to show for it. What were your people doing the last 8 years? Oh yeah, same thing as the Bush admin: not much good, a lot of 'yes sirs can I get you a coffee?'

Posted by: tphishs | November 23, 2008 7:11 AM | Report abuse

tphishs, did someone tell you journalists were smart? What did you expect? Did you think they saved history? No, they just write sleeze and hate in order to sell papers. Good luck.

Posted by: annnort | November 25, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

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