Saturday, November 6, 2004

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So much for the massive turnover prediction

Prior to the election, many conservatives e-mailed me stating that they shared my qualms about aspects of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, and that of course Bush was going to clean house after the election.

Reading Mike Allen's story in today's Washington Post, I have my doubts:

President Bush will not ask his appointees for the mass resignation letters that sometimes have been requested with a change of term but instead wants the aides to keep doing their jobs unless they are told otherwise, White House officials said yesterday.

White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. and the director of presidential personnel, Dina Powell, held a conference call on Thursday with agency heads and their White House liaisons and assured them that although all appointees serve at the pleasure of the president, there will be no universal request for resignations.

The decision reflects both Bush's view that his government is working well, and his determination to move aggressively to pass ambitious legislation before he starts being viewed as a lame duck, officials said.

A White House official said the reprieve also reflects the premium Bush puts on consistency as part of his management style....

Although Bush plans no administration-wide housecleaning, not everyone who wants to stay will be able to. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow was subtly given the idea that he would not be staying for all four years but could take all the time he wanted to leave, administration officials said. Snow may help kick off Bush's proposal to overhaul the tax code and then return home to Richmond, officials said.

Attorney General John D. Ashcroft is also expected to leave. So are Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

What astonishes me is not that Bush wants to keep most of his cabinet officers on board -- that is certainly true to Bush's style. What's amazing is that these people want to stay on. Forgetting partisanship or performance, these jobs are just exhausting. Prior to this administration, the average length of tenure for cabinet or subcabinet position was somewhere between eighteen months and two years.

To paraphrase Michael Jackson, this Bush administration isn't like other administrations.

UPDATE: This site is getting rather worked up about this issue.

posted by Dan on 11.06.04 at 10:45 AM


State, A.G., Homeland Defense and just before the election, CIA. -- sounds like a lot of turnover in the foreign/counterterrorism areas.

Is there someone in particular your gunning for?


posted by: PD Shaw on 11.06.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]

What'd be your "wish list" for those posts most likely to be vacated? As a Democrat, I can't decide between "reality-based Republicans" (which'd be good for the country) or more Ashcroft-esque circus clowns (which'd be good for THE DAILY SHOW and THE ONION).

Here're some breakdowns:

Attorney General-
Reality-based: Rudy G.
Circus-based: Duane "Dog" Chapman, bounty hunter

Secretary of State-
Reality-based: Richard Lugar
Circus-based: Former UN ambassador Alan Keyes

Also, from the circus-based community, I want Donald Luskin to head treasury if Snow steps down.

posted by: Brad Reed on 11.06.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]

One theory is that Bush sees his Cabinet less as a group of government department heads and more as his people. This is after all the era of the Me Generation Presidency.

All nastiness aside, Bush's record suggests that he does not trust very many people, and does not know very many people well enough to trust them. Richard Lugar is a very smart guy and an exemplary public servant, but Bush knows him only well enough to know Lugar has some views of foreign affairs that differ from administration policy -- and he doesn't need Lugar for political reasons as he needed Colin Powell. So Lugar will not be named Secretary of State.

In fact nearly everyone Bush can keep, he will keep. Also, as far as the domestic departments are concerned Bush's Cabinet secretaries don't have anything like the autonomy (and ability to take risks and court trouble) that they did in many previous administrations. If they are overwhelmed with administrative issues (e.g. Ridge, Thompson) or have slipped in to the Cabinet with policy ideas of their own (Whitman when she was at EPA) their jobs are exhausting. But for the most part Bush's domestic secretaries have their big decisions made for them by the White House political office. It's not ennobling, but it isn't exhausting either.

posted by: Zathras on 11.06.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]

Continuing my meme, Viet D. Dinh for Attorney General.

posted by: BigFire on 11.06.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]

Bush appointees believe religiously in the famous Franklin anedote: 'If We don't hang together, We will hang separately.' lgl

posted by: lgl on 11.06.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]

Tarred and feathered would be too good for the nutjobs in Rummy's OSP. Do they still have a gallows at the Pentagon?

posted by: Goldwater on 11.06.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]

In today's episode of "Don't blame me, I'm a Californian who wrote-in Tancredo":

If Tom Ridge goes, his replacement might be Asa Hutchinson. Here are a few interesting links to ponder:

"Rounding up all illegals 'not realistic'"

"[Bush] Immigration plan envisions 'incentives' to illegal aliens"

"Illegals detained at border released onto U.S. streets"

posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 11.06.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]

"What astonishes me is not that Bush wants to keep most of his cabinet officers on board -- that is certainly true to Bush's style. What's amazing is that these people want to stay on.

Might this say something about their boss?

posted by: notthisgirl on 11.06.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]

notthisgirl, That they are all *cough* power-hungry *cough*?

Let us pray that the positions that did open up aren't filled by the Rick Sanatorum's of the republican party. As for the DoD, it looks like we are all set for "Four more years, Four more wars". I'm waiting for TradeSports to open up betting on the # of wars in the next four years.

Let me also second Luskin for circus-based Treasurey Secretary.

posted by: Jor on 11.06.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]


You guys lost because you looked like a bunch of crazy hate-filled hyenas. Congratulations on getting an early start with this approach for '06 and '08.

posted by: Matthew Cromer on 11.06.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]

Nice job of projecton there, Matthew C.

posted by: Doug on 11.06.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]

Yeah, why is it the the left's hate-filled hyenas cost us votes, but guys like DeMint and Santorum keep getting elected?

Really, I can think of only three current elected Democratic reps that are as batshit crazy as this year's freshman class of GOP Senators: Kucinich, Barbara Lee and Cynthia McKinney.

posted by: Brad Reed on 11.06.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]

Luskin for Treasury!

posted by: praktike on 11.06.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]

Just think Kerry supporters muse--if only we got 65,000 crossover voters in Ohio WE WIN. Well we would still have a GOP House and Senate. Bush would have won by 3.9 million (bit more then their real pres Al Gore did in 2000) With all the uproar over Kerry's "victory" the country would have been in a gridlock with a weak pres. and a pissed off population. A Kerry victory under these circumstances would have left us like a deer in the headlights when the next attack was launched. Oh yeah our First "LADY" would have been spoating her pearls of wisdom for all the world to ponder. But all the Kerry people could say they won. It's so important to win is it not?

posted by: Gorman on 11.06.04 at 10:45 AM [permalink]

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