NR Digital

Bureaucratic Rot

by Rob Long

A government, like a fish, decays from its guts

‘The fish rots from the head down” is a popular saying these days, mostly among people who do not fish and who, apparently, have never met a fish.

“The fish rots from the head down,” say folks on television and in agitated blog posts about the recent cascade of scandals that have beset the Obama administration. The scandals are all of a sneaky piece, too: lying, spying, cover-upping, political strong-arming. They all have been minimized by a lickspittle press that looks the other way, and at least two of them — the flagrant persecution of conservative political groups by the IRS and the EPA — manage a kind of paranoid’s trifecta: They involve powerful and unregulated government agencies acting on the implicit orders of a furiously partisan White House against a collection of citizen-activists who already think the government is out to get them.

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