Politics Is Policy

“Drain the swamp!” Donald Trump declared in every campaign speech of 2016.  He meant, of course, the Swamp of Washington, D.C., home of the labyrinthine network of centralized bureaucracies that control our lives.  It’s also called the Deep State and the Permanent Bureaucracy.

Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as well as the two Republican George Bushes vastly increased the size and noxious powers of the Swamp.  Trump is the first president since Ronald Reagan left office in 1989 who has worked to get government out of our lives.  Political Management of the Bureaucracy: A Guide to Reform and Control, by Donald J. Devine, who was director of the Office of Personnel Management during Reagan’s first term, explains how to pump out the brackish water and exterminate the mosquitoes.  The Gipper said of him, “Devine took on with vigor and determination one of the toughest, most important challenges we faced.”  Devine’s success was “measured in billions of dollars of budget savings.”  The book under review is a revised edition, for the Trump Era, of Devine’s 1991 book.

I was resident in the Swamp as a young journalist during the mid-1980’s and remember very well the battles my conservative pals in government waged against the permanent bureaucracy and the “Bushie” appointees the Vice President finagled...

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