Yesterday, the good folks at Think Progress were having a little fun with the White House payroll. Drawing on a list of White House salaries published in the National Journal, the TPers determined the four most overpaid White House staffers. Tucked away between ethics advisers and White House's Director of Fact Checking (no doubt a very lonely job in an administration that uses the phrase “reality based” to dismiss critics) was Stuart Baker, Director for Lessons Learned. Leaving aside for the moment the very All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten quality of his title, yesterday brought further evidence that Mr. Baker, who pulls down $106,641 a year, may well be the most useless member of the executive branch.
As Think Progress reports in another post, Steven Bradbury, head of the Justice Department's office of legal counsel, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee announced that when it comes to matters of war and law, “The President is always right.” Ironically, this profession of a classically Nixonian article of faith (“Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal.” R.M. Nixon, felon-esque ex-president and The Pride of Yorba Linda, told David Frost during a TV interview in 1977) came up while Bradbury was being questioned about the Supreme Court's recent Hamdan decision, in which the Supremes made it clear that the President is not always right when it comes the law and war. Apparently, someone isn't doing a very good job of making sure lessons are learned.
In other news, John Dean, the most useful and honorable former inmate of Nixon's White House, has new book out, Conservatives without Conscience, which examines the menace that the authoritarian tendencies of the Bush administration and its supporters pose to our democracy. At least someone is interested in lessons learned.