Monday, November 15, 2004
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Open cabinet reshuffle thread
Mike Allen and William Branigin are reporting in the Washington Post that Colin Powell will resign today as Secretary of State. Three other cabinet secretaries -- Education Secretary Rod Paige, Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman, and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham -- are also expected to resign.
Feel free to post your thought here on Powell's legacy, possible replacement, implications for U.S. foreign policy, and whether there will be any further departues from the foreign policy team. I'm particularly curious about this section in the Allen and Branigin story:
If this is true, then it means Don Rumsfeld ain't going anywhere.posted by Dan on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM
I was expecting Cheney to leave soon, because of his heart; with all the shakeups, that looks less likely.posted by: Independent George on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
The bubble just got smaller and the blinders more blinding.
Vive the reality based community.posted by: Gael on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
Powell's legacy can be summed up by one commentator who said: "A secretary of State who dislikes travel -- my kind of diplomat."
Patrickposted by: PD Shaw on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
I would expect Cheney to stay on long enough to be (re-?)inaugurated in as VP, even if that's from a hospital bed. Whether he's leaving to make room for the intended GOP '08 candidate, or on the up and up, that's the smoothest way to do it.
IMHO, the only surprising resignation is Ashcroft's. Powell's had been expected, and he's pretty much used up (diplomacy isn't this administration's strong point, his credibility is lost, and the re-election is a done deal).
After Powell and Ashcroft, there's only small fry left outside of the Pentagon.posted by: Barry on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
Top contenders to replace Powell:
- Zell Miller
Apparently a possible replacement for Rod Paige is Margaret Spellings, a Bush assistant. To get an idea of what that might mean, check out the video referenced here. I know the video is 80 Megs, but it's certainly revealing.posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
Having a president surround himself with Cabinet nominees he is comfortable with because he has worked with them in the past (as opposed to the most qualified people nationally) would be alittle less offensive if he was from a state where the quality of living standards weren't so low. Does the US as a whole really want to model our education system after the one in Texas?? Poor education system and the highest rate of out of wedlock teen births in the nation. Yipee i oposted by: moran on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
The question is, is where do Rice and Wolfowitz go? If Rice goes to State then Novak's leak came from her, and she wants Rumsfeld gone.
If Wolfowitz doesn't stay at DoD but moves laterally in the adminstration and Rice doesn't go to State then the leak came from him, and he's the one that doesn't like Rumsfeld.
Nobody, of course, likes Powell.
If I were writing the script (Bush 2: The Movie) instead of actually living the life of an American in these post-election days, the script would go something like this: Colin Powell, on his way out the door after Bush reelection, hesitates when he realizes Arafat's on his death bed. Powell thinks: Maybe i could still engineer a 2-state Israeli-Palestinian solution and go down in the history books for it. . .But then he talks to a few insiders, takes the pulse of the Evangelical Christians who will oppose any sort of viable solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and reiterates: "I'm outta here!" The movie plot goes on to describe how the evangelicals--who have now tasted blood (a la the old Frankenstein plot) turn on their supposed benefactors--including Karl Rove--and spend the next four years making the lives of wealthy republicans--including CEOs of multinational companies and Time-Warner CEO Richard Parsons--a living hell. With this election Bush II, Rove and Company have unleashed a monster--and all of us are going to pay for their folly.posted by: sylny on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
I don't know about Rumsfeld but here's my personal take on Wolfowitz. My roommate who works at the OECD said his boss got a call a week ago from Wolfowitz inquiring about an executive director position. He may be job-hunting because he knows he won't have a job in the Bush Administration much longer.posted by: Agora Mike on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
Sylny's post stands out from the rest here if only for explicity acknowledging he's dealing in speculative fiction.posted by: Josh on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
The advantage Rice would have over Powell is her personal closeness to the President. This is almost always an asset in a Secretary of State.
It is also the only plus I see in the reported change. I would not call Colin Powell a success at State; he lost more bureaucratic battles than he won, was overruled in public more than once, and left the State Department as an institution(which was described as "crippled" in a blue-ribbon commission report in early 2001) at a minimum no stronger than he found it. But he was well regarded in foreign capitals and evidently well-respected in the Foreign Service. Rice is neither. She has not been notably successful in managing the much smaller NSC staff, and it is not hard to imagine her being seen in the White House as a Presidential envoy to a hostile department rather than someone responsible for that department.
There is also the matter of who replaces her as NSA. Rice appears to have devoted much time to briefing and providing emotional support to a President who began his tenure without any background in foreign affairs and whose interest in the subject has never approached that of most earlier Presidents. Someone will have to take over that job -- that whole job, not just the briefings. This may be a tougher assignment than it might appear.posted by: Zathras on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
I fear that Rice will be made SoS, even though she was an absolute disaster as NSA. Danforth would be a much better choice. Though I would actually prefer someone like John Brady Kiesling, but that will never happen with Bush's hate for him.posted by: flaime on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
As far as administrating the administration, this administration has been pretty poor despite picking individuals the President has worked with in the past. More yes-men and yes-women is not good for them nor for the country. Nor are supremely powerful people that further politicize bureacracies (Iraq) in transition after September 11th and Iraq.
I hope the next four is very, very low profile- politically and in policy.posted by: Gael on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
When I was a kid my dad would bring home Procedings (of the naval institute). I used to like looking at the 'artist's conception' of the latest ship design -- always really sleek, in subdued yet vivid (if that is possible) colors. You probably get the same type pictures in popular mechanics.
Well, my memory of Colin Powell will be of him, standing up in front of the UN Security Council, in front of the world, and briefing with an 'artist's conception' of a trailer-- again, in subdued, yet vivid colors and as sleek as any ship. To send a man that spent his life in uniform, who must have know the difference between 'intel fact', 'intel speculation' and 'intel fiction' to brief the UN with a picture painting of a trailer, for cryin out loud. He should have resigned when he was asked to pull such a stunt.posted by: stari_momak on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
I agree that Powell's resignation comes too late to save any shread of dignity he might have once posessed. Too bad - he was the only adult in the inner circle, and unfortunately he chose loyalty to the Bushes over loyalty to his country. After that stunt with the fake anthrax in front of the UN it's a wonder how he can hold his head up in public.
As for his replacement, it'll just be a yes-man faithfully telling Bush whatever he wants to hear.posted by: uh_clem on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
We're calling this a "reshuffle"? Seems more like a race for the door.posted by: wishIwuz2 on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
Slyny your comment that Evangical Christians "will oppose any sort of viable solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict" is...ummm..crazy.
What specifics constitute your idea of a "viable solution"? Last time (back in 2000) peace foundered because the Palestinians refused to give up the "Right of Return" to Israel.
The Israelis aren't going to accept the "Right" of Palestinians to return to Israel proper - because that would lead to the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. I am sure Evangelicals would oppose any US attempts to force Israel to accept the Right of Return but many others would as well - Jews, Catholics, Atheists, etc.posted by: Jim on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
Michael Ledeen from National Review said Zell Miller should replace Powell. I thought that was a laughable idea, but then I pictured Miller dueling Saddam, and thought maybe it's not so bad.
As for Powell, I agree that his legacy is permanently tarnished by two things: the UN presentation that turned out to be so wrong; and the fact that he couldn't convince the president that the Iraq war wouldn't be quite as easy as others said it would be. The former was farce; the latter tragedy.
As for Condi, there's a link on Wonkette about how George Tenet might be trashing her as "incompetent" in his book. (If you go to Wonkette, don't scroll down far enough to see the Cheney picture.)posted by: Andrew Steele on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
The State Department's dysfunctional instutional culture needs wrecking as much as the CIA's. Who Bush appoints as the next Secretary of State will show what call he has made on that.
The CIA committed professional suicide by openly oppposing Bush's re-election. He should have purged it after the Wilson/Plame affair. Instead he waited until they did even more damage to him. See my post from last year here:
I wonder if Bush is waiting for State to go public in opposing him.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
We will know if Bush is serious about repairing international ties by whom he appoints. If he appoints a Zell Miller or a Condi Rice, we will know that he isn't at all serious, as these people will do even more to alienate international allies and enemies alike.
If he looks at perhaps Joe Biden, we will know he is serious.
If he picks John Danforth, we will know that he only cares about England and Italy.posted by: flaime on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
I read the Ledeen column where he states (without supporting argument) that Bush should make Zell Miller SOS. What is the sensible argument for this? I'm serious, if anyone has seen one, please provide links.posted by: catfish on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
You're looking for sensible arguments in a Ledeen column ?
posted by: erg on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
There is no sensible argument for making Zell Miller Secretary of State. Even if there were, he does not want the job. He is 72, is ready to retire, and has a family even more ready for him to retire than he is himself.
On another subject, it is probably unnecessary for me to say that my reference upthread to Colin Powell's not having strengthened the Department of State as an institution had nothing to do with how many Foreign Service Officers voted for George Bush. But I'll say it anyway, because there are people who believe sincerely that insufficient public enthusiasm for a President's campaign message of the day is the key telltale sign of a "dysfunctional institutional culture." It is even possible that some of these people work in the White House.posted by: Zathras on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
I mentioned Ledeen's recommendation for entertainment value. I can't imagine an argument for it.
But seriously, for SOS, how about Sen. Richard Lugar of my homestate, Indiana? A good Republican, solid civil servant and policymaker, and someone who would inject some reality into the Bush foreign policy. The fact that he's criticized the Bush admin makes him an even better choice.
I'd like to say something about the CIA: Cleaning house is fine. But do it upfront; lay your cards on the table. If "cleaning house" is the administration's goal, then you go in and actually fire people on the grounds that they've failed in some way. You don't send in someone (Goss and his aides) to force people into resignation by offending and undermining them. That's just pusillanimous.posted by: Andrew Steele on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
Lots of people who have worked at State, including a fair number who retired after careers there, have said for years that the place should be "broken into a thousand pieces". It hasn't been effective even by its own terms for at least 15 years.
State has had major problems for longer than that. Its last hurrah seems to have been @ 1974-75 when it was a key player in revamping the world's financial system to handle changes in income flows following the post-1973 surge in oil prices.
State has openly opposed the NSSC because the latter requires shattering of the Middle East status quo as of 9/11. State finds it unacceptable that the US has become a revolutionary power.
From one of my July 2002 columns:
"The major issue here is the State Department has been so captured by its foreign constituencies that it is effectively on the other side in the war on terror. Consider the following from their perspective. The Bush Administration has announced a new policy of forcibly changing governments which are not overtly at war with us, and clearly implied that some "failed states" will be turned into protectorates of, if not annexed by, our allies or us. Worse, it overtly proposes sneak attacks on such countries. If the Bush Administration doesn't meet the State Department's definition of a "rogue state", what does?"
Many Foreign Service Officers abroad, particularly in Europe, have been overtly contemptuous and rebellious concerning Bush administration foreign policy since the NSSC came out in June of 2002.
This is one of the major reasons for the Bush administration's bad relations abroad - State has basically mutinied in selling the official policies of the U.S. Government. Not that the Bush administration has done much selling either.
State just hasn't acted as publically against the Bush administration, in the U.S., as the CIA did. Overseas yes, but not at home.
Which is why the CIA is being purged right now. They weren't discreet enough.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
Forget Biden...go with Liebermann. His performance on the chat shows this weekend made it seem like he just might accept such an offer.
That's the best bet if the Bush Admin wants to triangulate...
Biden was too vocal a critic...and seems to be a possible '08 candidate for the Dems (if they aren't so stupid that they give Hillary the nod) so why give him a national platform from which to run?posted by: Phocion on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
The problem is policy, not how its sold. The world's greatest salesman would have had trouble selling the Bush administration policies abroad.posted by: erg on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
The State Department is on the other side in the war on terror?
As soon as one makes that claim, nothing else he says is credible. That is so far beyond slander it's comical. These people are not on bin Laden's side.
Might they be reluctant, or even unwilling, "salesmen" regarding the Bush foreign policy? Yes, perhaps many of them are. But the idea that a president's foreign policy depends on it being "sold" by foreign service officers is not believable. The president and his top representatives are responsible for foreign policy, and its reception abroad. The mid- and low-level bureaucrats are not.
Erq is right that the world's greatest salesman couldn't sell the Bush foreign policy -- the world's greatest salesman is quite likely George W. Bush, and he couldn't sell his policy anywhere but in the U.S.posted by: Andrew Steele on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
Check out the State Dept.'s visa policy 30-36 months ago. They wanted to keep issuing visas to people no U.S. official had ever seen - there was no way of ascertaining that U.S. visas being issued in Saudi Arabia were going to people who really existed, let alone that they weren't going to known terrorists.
There were lots of other things like that. State eventually acquiesced in post-9/11 security measures insisted on by the Bush administration, but it did put up so much resistance for almost a year that lots of people accused it then of being on the other side. State's position on those issues was not merely unreasonable, but insane.
You might not have been paying attention at the time, but I was, and wrote about such things at the time. I also explained, and you just saw it, how the Bush administration's National Security Strategy met State's definition of a rogue state.
That events happen without your knowledge does not mean they did not happen.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
Well, I guess it's all moot-- CNN is reporting that Bush is naming Rice.
But if I were him, I would have asked John Kerry to take the job. Think about it. Bush has talked about "reaching out", both to Democrats and to Europe. What better choice to achieve those goals than the man who spent much of the campaign talking about the need to rebuild alliances and criticizing Bush's foreign policy up to now?
And after Kerry's concession speech where he called upon his followers to work with the President for the good of the country, it seems he would have to accept. I've always liked the way Parliamentary nations are able to form "national unity" governments in times of crisis. This would be a way that we could do the same.
It would be perfect. But alas, not to be in this universe....posted by: Shangri La on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
To say that the hearts and minds of America's foreign service officers were with Osama bin Laden on 9-11 is simply more than I can accept. Evidence of bureaucratic inertia is not enough.
However, you are very likely more expert than I on these issue. There are many things I do not know. I'd like to recommend this rule to live by, from one of America's great philosophers:
"As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know."posted by: Andrew Steele on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
In fact, Bush couldn't sell more than 51% of the public on his vision.
I find the comments about the CIA, State Department etc. very illuminating. In the world of the Bush administration and its adherents, there is no such thing as people who may have differing opinions. In this world, there are only good guys and bad guys. If the CIA's functionaries refuse to genuflect and kiss the ring of the President, they are clearly traitors, and must be dismissed. Shades of McCarthy .. I must also say this is the first time in recent memory I can recollect the CIA being castigated for being liberal.posted by: Jont on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
Personally, I've always thought the job was Rice's if she wanted it. She'd definitely be closer to Bush than Powell was, though I've always thought Colin Powell was the most projected-upon person in American politics, at least over the past decade plus. There was a post over at the Diplomad a while back that argued one of the great difficulties in the State Dep't was a sense of institutional entitlement, and that the great Bush administration crime was less the policies that were advocated, than that the policies didn't come from people in the professional bureaucracy. The question about Rice as SecState becomes (1) will the vested bureaucratic interests at State see Rice as a threat coming from the White House, or as an opportunity to make their views heard, and (2) will Rice, or whomever the new SecState may otherwise be, attempt to reform the culture at State? Personally, I expect (1) the State Dep't fights against any pro-Bush rather than pro-State appointees, resulting in (2) an attempt to change State from its current pro-State Dep't orientation to one committed to advancing the goals of the administration, no matter what they may think of those goals.
Personally, I'd prefer Lugar, or possibly Danforth, as SecState and Rice to remain as NSA. I think Zathras's point above of how important Rice has been in forming W's foreign policy views is well taken, and I doubt her ability to successfully be SecState in the face of likely bureaucratic resistance and maintain the same sort of advisory status.posted by: Tom on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
News reports that Stephen Hadley is expected to replace Rice at NSA. This would be the same Stephen Hadley at the heart of the questions surrounding the Niger yellowcake story.posted by: Jeff on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
A news commentator today noted Powell’s disagreement with the White House over Iraq policy and also mentioned friction over the handling Iran and North Korea. Does anyone know the nature of those latter differences of opinion or links for further information?posted by: Wally W on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
State is safe from a purge of the sort going on at CIA - Condi has never shown the necessary ruthless administrative ability. State didn't attempt to sink Bush's re-election the way the CIA did, and its period of overt rebelliousness, domestically anyway, ended 18 months ago. So it won't be disturbed for the moment, while what is going down at Langley will have a deterrent effect on misbehavior for a while.
I hope Amy Zegart writes a book on this.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
Admiral Turner got it just right. "The CIA has got to be kept out of partisan politics."
My previous post was intended for Jont -- who spoke of CIA functionaries being mad to genuflect and kiss the ring.posted by: Notary on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
My guess is most of these CIA guys are secretly relieved to be getting out. We all know that they have been second guessed by the Office of Special Plans, with its group of Bibi Netanyahu paid consultants. Why put up with the guff, the lies, the distortions, and the non-professionalism? I left an intel career, I say to my to intel professionals -- come on out, it ain't so scary outside of government. Better to be a free man or woman that locked behind two checkpoints in a windowless building. And you won't have to live in Northern Virginia! (What an armpit.)
This administration has corrupted just about every aspect of our government. It is too bad the cannon fodder in the middle of the country doesn't wake up and smell the coffee. But its only a matter of time.
To Tom S. -- if granting visas is such a problem, why does your president want to grant 8-10 million visas with work permits. Do you think these peoples backgrounds are really going to be checked?posted by: stari_momak on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
Notary, was the president right or was teh CIA right?
All hail the crazies.
This guy thinks Condi might have the chops to clean up Foggy Bottom.
"... Dr. Rice is an ideal appointment to bring about change at the Fudge Factory, as the State Department is sometimes known. Not only is she a brilliant, hard-driving, and iron-willed confidante of President Bush, she is highly familiar with the ways of calcified, underhanded and dysfunctional bureaucracies, having studied and worked on two of the worst such examples. Her academic career was as a Sovietologist, a student of the bureaucratic system whose Byzantine inner wars were as fierce as the Cold War.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
I don't know what disturbs me more: That we have a President who thinks people should be loyal to him before the nation and that he is giving orders to make it so in the civil service, or that we have people who actually seem to agree with that nonsense.posted by: flaime on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
Dissenting voices WITHIN the Administration are a good thing. When those voices go public or stay silent to their political bosses while actively opposing the Administration's policies with Congress or foreign governments, that is a bad thing. Everyone who works for the Executive Branch works for the President and has a responsibility either to advance the President's policies or to resign.
In other words, be absolutely candid about your views to your superiors and to the President. Once the President has determined what the policy will be, you have two choices: EITHER (1) support the policy fully, even if you disagree with it (that means no clandestine attempts to undermine it); OR (2) resign in protest.posted by: Ben on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
Translation "Condi Rice has virtually no mangaement experience, her experience is limited to an academic, outside study of the Soviet System, and to an academic environment. If you had to pick one person to manage a huge organization spread over 170 countries, with lots of local fiefdoms, Rice would be close to the bottom of the list".
But on the plus side, she does have the one absolute requirement -- total fealty to the President.posted by: Jont on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
In fairness, even the best Secretaries of State have not always managed their department. Often, that job has been delegated to a Deputy (earlier, to the Under) Secretary. This was how General Marshall did things, and it wasn't because he was a poor manager. He just didn't think administration was the Secretary's main priority, and he was right.
So, assuming Richard Armitage leaves with Powell as he has said he would, Rice could help herself very greatly by bringing on subordinates who can handle the administrative and management tasks she won't have time for. Or not.posted by: Zathras on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
Ben says - "Everyone who works for the Executive Branch works for the President and has a responsibility either to advance the President's policies or to resign." Exactly so.
Jor - Porter Goss told the BBC that "The core business of intelligence is spying. That means close in access to the hard targets."
Lets see if I get Notary correctly:
1) Everthing thats wrong with the CIA operationally can be attributed to the Democrats.
Has anyone considered the possibility that CIA personnel are angry simply because they are being made fall guys incessantly ? First, they were blamed by the likes of Mylroie for not seeing the Iraqi threat. Then they were blamed by the administration for overplaying the threat. For good measure, we had the White House leaking information about a CIA agent.posted by: jont on 11.15.04 at 11:51 AM [permalink]
jont - Point 1) I don't believe it, and didn't say it.
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