Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.This, of course, a twist on Arthur C. Clarke's claim that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and Hanlon's Razor, that one should never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity.
I think there's a point there. There's incompetence that isn't malicious. You try to praise someone, misspeak, piss them off, and are accused of being mean. That's a place for Hanlon's Razor. When someone tells you, "You can't handle this," then you go and screw it up anyway, that's a lot closer to malice.
No one has ever claimed George W. Bush was a great administrator. Incompetent is a strong word, but his history in business probably justifies it. In fact, when he was running for President in 2000, his surrogates argued that, while he may not be the brightest guy around, he'd be sure to have smart folks advising him.
Incompetence rises to malice when you know you have a problem, know the solution, and fail utterly to resolve the issue. If you rely in the competence of your advisors, incompetence in choosing advisors can rise to malice. Appointing a guy to run FEMA who was fired from his last job for supervision failures is bad, especially if he had no relevant experience for the job.
I'd be willing to hang this squarely around Brown's neck if it didn't fit a pattern. We didn't have enough resources to rebuild Iraq or to prevent the looting of Baghdad because of excessive optimism and the incompetent planning that preceded the invasion. The economy continues to mope along because of the excessive optimism that supply side economics would solve all that ails us. The "reforms" Bush proposed for Social Security failed because no one found Bush's claims credible any more. Had they forced it through, it would have failed the same way Medicare reforms and NCLB failed, all because of excessive optimism and the inability to see how things could, would, and did go wrong.
When you look over the last 5 years worth of failures and what progressive bloggers were saying beforehand, you'll see that these failures could be anticipated and were anticipated, but warnings were ignored.
In the mire of trite expressions I've wandered into, I'll close with this thought: Insanity is when you do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. Now to find the crazy one.