Rei - I think you hit on a great point... I've worked for 4 administrations at a level I could watch the politco machine in action... Within 6 months of starting - the gung-ho "gonna make a difference" elected or appointed leader is beat down... usually right after their first budget hearing.
They all come in with a grand vision of change - and leave with a quiet sigh of "I wish we had more time" - AND they all say the same thing, "The people are great - I didn't expect that."
Comes down to a fundamental flaw in thinking... that government is screwed up because of the people in it, or the last leaders of it, or the some magic switch that was turned off and we just need to find it... I think it's deeper, buried... and to fix it, it's gonna take the people who can get dirty and know what's mucking up the lines.