According to Matthew Yglesias, “W. James Antle III writes that we shouldn’t care about the integrity of the civil service.” That would indeed be a stupid thing to write. Except I did not write or say any such thing. I don’t agree with burrowing (shifting political appointees into career government positions before leaving office), but it is a bipartisan practice and I see no evidence that President Bush has engaged in it to a greater degree than previous administrations, much less to the point where it will be a serious impediment to Barack Obama’s administration. If somebody can give me such evidence, I’ll agree that Bush-burrowing is a bad thing because elections have consequences.
Some of Yglesias’s commenters are skeptical of my claim that federal civil service employees tilt heavily Democratic, which I argue would at least somewhat mitigate the impact of any Republican burrowing. Hatch Act constraints make this more difficult to quantify than in other lines of work, but I’d point out that the federal employees unions are overwhelmingly Democratic in their campaign giving. It could be that the union leadership is more Democratic than the rank-and-file and thus spends money disproportionately on one political party, but that never happens, right?