Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Well, so far Bush is not taking my advice. Rice has gone to State, where I expect her to perform with a Democrat level of ineffectiveness. As a creature of Bush's, she'll have credibility abroad as speaking for the Administration, but by the same token she'll garner little respect in her own right. She has no proven management skills, so I don't expect the State Department bureaucracy to start functioning well under her. And she has no proven diplomatic skills, so I don't expect her to change the minds or hearts of any of the difficult characters we have to deal with abroad. I thought Powell was a weak Secretary of State relative to Jim Baker or George Shultz, precisely because he neither won the President's full confidence nor was able to effectively advance the President's agenda abroad. He was far better than Warren Christopher or Madeleine Albright, though. I fear Condi will represent a notable and further decline. She'll represent the President abroad. Whether she'll succeed in advancing his agenda is another story entirely.
The other departments don't matter so much to me. Gonzales looks like he'll be fine as Attorney General; a consolidator, which is what that department needs. Energy, Commerce and Education should probably be merged into other departments anyway, and the proposed replacements for these departments seem fine as far as it goes. And Agriculture I really know nothing about.
The real remaining questions are: will Snow and/or Rumsfeld go, and who will replace them?
Based on the record so far, Bush will be inclined to promote from within, and to promote people who are as nearly his own exclusive creatures as possible. Some on the right are spinning this as a sign of strength: Bush is moving boldly to advance his agenda. It doesn't look that way to me. If Bush was strong, he'd have *allies* he could rely on, rather than sticking exclusively with members of the "family."