Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Chronicle blasts Paige; gives Spellings a free pass

Rod Paige's home paper, the Houston Chronicle, blasted him in yesterday's edition:
When Rod Paige was secretary of education, some critics characterized him as a frontman hawking administration policies crafted by his successor, fellow Texan Margaret Spellings, then a policy adviser to President Bush. But Paige seems to have been the guiding force behind the decision to pay commentator Armstrong Williams and his public relations firm $240,000 to promote the No Child Left Behind Act.

The Education Department's inspector general reported that Paige and his aides were the key supporters of a botched plan to get favorable coverage in the minority community. When revealed by USA Today, the pact spurred well-deserved criticism that bureaucrats were buying journalists.

"There are moments in life where one is left mouth agape at how decision-makers can show a lack of critical judgment," Secretary Spellings declared. "This is one of them."

Amen, Sister. But the Chronicle's editorial board missed the boat when they let Spellings and her current chief of staff of the hook.

...To her credit, Spellings said the contract was wrong and promised to fix the management problems that led to the Armstrong Williams fiasco. According to Paige's successor, "It is the secretary who must be careful about and is ultimately responsible for the signals that his/her office sends."
While Spellings has rightfully criticized Paige and Williams, she has not cooperated fully with her Department's own inspector general. She has made her chief of staff -- and apparent architect of the deal, David Dunn -- largely off limits to the inspector. How did the Chronicle fail to notice that? Doesn't that also leave your "mouth agape"?

Though some of the blame should be given to Spellings and Dunn, it's still amusing to read the harsh assessment of Paige:

It's unfortunate that one of [his] few original initiatives in office turned out to be so ill-considered. Perhaps it's a good thing Paige wasn't a more assertive secretary.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also continue to be puzzled why people in the public relations department have also been promoted, and why no one has been discussing that. Surely they had something to do with this contract, no?

7:59 PM  

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