An interesting Davenetics post today, highlighting something I’d been vaguely aware of but hadn’t really thought about; the difference between Politics and Governance. Politics is the playing of games; potentially very important games, that determine who gets to do what. Governance is the doing of the what. For all the talk of the media monitoring the government, whether you think it’s left wing, right wing, or just corporatist (I’ll give you a clue; the correct answer is c), we look almost exclusively at the politics of a situation, with the unstated assumption that whoever wins the political battle must have had the best idea, and the right skills to implement it.
Sadly, Katrina proved that wrong. Bush had the best, in the sense of most effective, message in the 2004 campaign, which was basically “I will keep you safe”. That’s a bold claim, and one of the things that follows from it is that he should (I originally put ‘will’, but who am I kidding?) also take blame if you’re not safe. It doesn’t matter if it was really his fault or not; if he said he would keep us safe, and didn’t then move mountains in an attempt to do so, he has failed. And lest you have doubts, appointing a discredited former horse supervisor to be the head of one of the most important agencies in the government doesn’t count as moving mountains.
So we picked someone based on politics, someone who is constantly misunderestimated when it comes to his political skill. It seems, sadly, that the chattering classes didn’t misunderestimate his skills in governance.