Ann Coulter

Democrats have leapt on reports of mold, rats and bureaucratic hurdles at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as further proof of President George Bush's failed war policies.

To the contrary, the problems at Walter Reed are further proof of the Democrats' failed domestic policies -- to wit, the civil service rules that prevent government employees from ever being fired. (A policy that also may account for Robert Byrd's longevity as a U.S. senator.)

Thanks to the Democrats, government employees have the world's most complicated set of job protection rules outside of the old East Germany. Oddly enough, this has not led to a dynamic workforce in the nation's capital.

Noticeably, the problems at Walter Reed are not with the doctors or medical care. The problems are with basic maintenance at the facility.

Unless U.S. Army generals are supposed to be spraying fungicide on the walls and crawling under beds to set rattraps, the slovenly conditions at Walter Reed are not their fault. The military is nominally in charge of Walter Reed, but -- because of civil service rules put into place by Democrats -- the maintenance crew can't be fired.

If the general "in charge" can't fire the people not doing their jobs, I don't know why he is being held responsible for them not doing their jobs.

You will find the exact same problems anyplace market forces have been artificially removed by the government and there is a total absence of incentives, competition, effective oversight, cost controls and so on. It's almost like a cause-and-effect thing.

The Washington Post could have done the same report on any government facility in the Washington, D.C., area.

In a typical story from the nation's capital, last year, a 38-year-old woman died at the hospital after her blood pressure dropped and a D.C. ambulance took 90 minutes to pick her up and take her to a hospital that was five minutes away. For 90 minutes, the 911 operator repeatedly assured the woman's sister that the ambulance was on its way.

You read these stories every few months in Washington.

New York Times reporter David Rosenbaum also died in Washington last year after being treated to the famed work ethic of the average government employee. Rosenbaum was mugged near his house and hit on the head with a pipe. A neighbor found him lying on the sidewalk and immediately called 911.