Paul Musgrave offers a spirited defense of political patronage:

What the executive branch needs is more patronage, not less….Despite all of the talk of the resurgence of the imperial presidency, contemporary presidents actually have surprisingly modest powers when it comes to staffing the government. For most of American history, presidents enjoyed much greater power to hire and fire federal employees, from Cabinet secretaries to rural postmasters. True, many of those officials were subject to Senate confirmation, and the realities of politics have always made dismissing officials a dangerous business. Nonetheless, the president could remove many officeholders at will.

It’s an argument advanced by – among others – political scientist Robert Maranto in his 2005 book, Beyond a Government of Strangers (Lexington).