Colin Powell’s out as US secretary of state (good for him), and goddess help us, Condi Rice is the Shrub’s pick to replace him. Should the current national security adviser — so hawkish she must have talons — win Senate approval, I fear the world is in for a hellish next four years.
The reported promotion of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to Secretary of State is a bad sign. The former Stanford University provost taught Bush most of what he knows about foreign policy and is his prism for viewing the world. But she has struggled to master the operations of the National Security Council, let alone the added task of coordinating Iraqi reconstruction. By putting Condi in charge of the vast bureaucracy at Foggy Bottom, Bush sends a message: It’s more important to be right beside him than to be right.
Which sounds eerily like the philosophy of 51 percent of the voting American public.
Stephen Hess, a political analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington, echoed this notion in an interview with Bloomberg. “We know that this is a president who cares a great deal about loyalty,” he said. “We know the odds are very great that many of these appointments for a second term will come out of the administration.”
The replacement of Powell with Rice is but one of the many changes that have come and will come in Bush’s cabinet. Last week brought news of the impending departures of Attorney General John Ashcroft and Commerce Secretary Don Evans; the Shrub has nominated White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales to succeed Ashcroft. (Now there is one scary choice.) Monday brought word of four staff resignations: Education Secretary Rod Paige, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, and, of course, Powell.
Who’s next? Will Donald Rumsfeld leave the Defense Department? Will Tom Ridge turn over Homeland Security to someone else? Time will tell, and neither man is talking. And what about the shakeup at the CIA, the reported effort to rid the agency of “leakers” and “liberals”? Newsday reports that Bush wants to create a CIA that will bend to his will — again, it’s better to be loyal to the Shrub than to be right. The whole mess makes Sunday’s ep of CBS’ “60 Minutes” a must-see: It features a bin Laden expert who was often at odds with the Bush administration and now is one of the many CIAsters to leave the agency. The man, Michael Scheuer, happens to be the “Anonymous” behind Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, one of the most compelling books I read this year.
In any case, whatever happens to the cabinet or the CIA, don’t be surprised if you see Shrubbie nominate and recruit folks eager to help him spend his political capital on right-wing, imperialist, violent, pro-business, anti-people efforts. After all, he insists he has a mandate. It’s Georgie’s way or the highway…