Wednesday, August 17, 2011

President Kludge

The story goes that in WWII, a machinist's mate on a battleship fended off any work details by keeping constantly busy making a very important piece of equipment that would increase the ship's fighting efficiency. No one but he was allowed to see it.

One day, the ship's captain informed the machinist's mate that the Admiral would be inspecting the ship the following week and that he was to present his very important invention at the inspection. The mate worked feverishly to the deadline, and as the Admiral was being piped aboard, he picked up the item and rushed up to the deck.

He ran across the deck to where the Admiral was waiting, but slipped and fell, and the marvelous thing went over the side. Everyone in the crew heard it hit the water with a loud "KLUDGE!"

This is supposedly how the slang term "kludge" came into existence. It now has the connotation of something thrown together in haste, held together with chewing gum and baling wire, and just barely able to fulfill the function for which it was intended in the most inelegant and inefficient way. That's one way of looking at the Obama Administration: a huge jury-rig that's shaking itself apart.

But listening to President Obama talk about his Big Jobs Plan and how he's getting it ready for unveiling on Labor Day, it reminded me of the story of the goldbricking machinist's mate and how his fortunate stroke of bad luck ensured he'd never have to present his work for inspection.

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