The picture of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby in the back seat of his government supplied limousine has been a stock shot lately. One or more of his multifarious White House positions entitles him to the perk.

One of his jobs, but apparently not the one which merits the limo, is chief of staff to the Vice President. Why the hell does the Vice President have a chief of staff? One would have to have an enormous staff to merit someone whose job is to chief it, if chief is a verb. The office of Vice President has no executive responsibilities.

So, if the President wants his Vice to take on various executive jobs, it would make better sense to plug him in somewhere in the myriad of already up and running departments, agencies, committees, councils, commissions and bureaus. Why a new parallel organization? Cheney’s predecessor, Al Gore, also had a staff with a chief, so the Republicans do not get sole blame for this piece of bad organization.

Titles aside, what do these people do? Well, we gather from the counts in Libby’s grand jury indictment that one of the things they do is hang on the phone creating mischief. A busy person, a person with real work to do, might not be spending his time purveying gossip, classified or not, to a bunch of reporters who will rise to any bait.

Scooter’s presence in the back of the limo is a visible sign of an overstaffed executive branch which is rapidly closing in on zero functionality. Nor is the bloat crippling the White House alone. All departments of government are groaning with under-secretaries, deputy secretaries, assistant secretaries, deputy assistant secretaries, assistant deputy secretaries, assistant under-secretaries, deputy assistant under-secretaries. These titles come with staffs and people to chief them.

The lines of authority are impossible to understand; the government’s organizational chart looks like something they serve at the Olive Garden and the number of steps between first rung government employees and the President is about the same as the number of steps on the Great Pyramid.

We have a crisis here, maybe one of morals, ethics, leadership and vision but assuredly one of management. If you don’t think so, watch what happens if we get hit with an avian flu pandemic.

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