The Lurita Doan farce
The first time is tragedy, the second time is farce, goes the cliché about history. But, in the matter of resigning heads of the General Services Administration, that’s backwards: Martha Johnson’s departure is the misfortune, and the previous administrator to resign, Lurita Doan, is the farce -- as demonstrated by her April 9 reapperance on Fox.
Lurita Doan, for those who may not know, is the former GSA administrator who was forced to resign by the White House in May 2008. What exactly caused the Bush administration to push her out almost exactly a year after the Office of Special Counsel determined (.pdf) that she had personally violated the Hatch Act is unknown. In May 2007, the OSC said that Doan’s “actions, to be certain, constitute an obvious misuse of her official authority and were made for the purpose of affecting the result of an election.”
The report accounted for only one part of the strange behavior Doan exhibited. There was her public spat with the GSA office of inspector general, for example--she accused it of creating a “hostile work environment,” and probably characterized auditors as terrorists (although she denied this later). She attempted to award a $20,000 no bid contract for public relations to a friend. She faced accusations of interfering in a schedule contract extension of Sun Microsystems.
In short, Doan racked up a litany of actions that implicated not merely her ability to oversee the actions of autonomous regional administrators (which, given the current state of information, appears to be the most that Johnson could be accused of), but her ability to be the leader of anything bigger than a neighborhood potluck.
Someone with such a record, one might think, would be a little shy of showing back up on national TV to criticize the agency today--another cliché applies, that of those living in glass houses not throwing stones.
However, there she was, telling Greta Van Susteren that the GSA inspector general report (.pdf) that led to Johnson’s resignation is “very likely to be accurate.” So much for auditors creating a “hostile work environment,” I suppose.
Then there was this suggestion to Gretchen Carlson that the Obama administration isn’t accepting responsibility. “I think you also see the Obama administration circling their wagons because they know this is very damaging. You simply cannot justify the kind of wasteful spending,” she said. Circling their wagons? The best example of that, I believe, would be allowing a GSA administrator known to have undertaken prohibited political activity as part of her official position to remain in place for nearly a year. That’s some circling.
Most amusingly, Doan said Johnson’s resignation was an example of “blaming anyone else for their errors.” Doan, in one last final reminder of the bizarre behavior she demonstrated, especially toward the end of her tenure, once appeared on stage at trade association dinner “with arrows sticking out of her head, shoulders, arms, and legs, and used the arrows to illustrate the shots she had been taking from the media, Congress, and ‘others who represented the status quo.’” What would Doan call comparing oneself to St. Sebastian except an invocation of martyrdom? (Doan, who holds a master’s degree in Renaissance literature, undoubtedly knew beforehand the image she was invoking.)
There’s more, of course, but there’s little point in listing all of the ways in which Doan illustrated to the world the breathtaking cluelessness that led her to driving GSA into a ditch and being forced out.
The only real downside to the comical spectacle of Doan’s reincarnation as a trusted voice of reason on Fox is the fact that Johnson indeed resigned. - Dave