What will the President's new cabinet look like, and does it even matter?
The President is short a few people in his Cabinet. It's not uncommon to lose many of first term selectees in a second term. Those chosen for the last four years have “Punched their ticket”. After having worked for the president, a former Cabinet member is quite often a much desired employee. Many stay within the D.C. Beltway, eventually picking up lucrative jobs for Political Action Committees, that's a long and polite way to spell Lobbyist).
The president has lost Cabinet members in Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, Justice and the Department of State.
He already has several designates, Condolezza Rice, for Secretary of State and Albert Gonzales for Attorney General; he has still to choose anyone to fill Tom Ridge's position at Homeland Security.
Of the seven Cabinet openings in these dangerous times in which we live, these three appointments are the most important; and I already have concerns about Rice and Gonzales.
Gonzales, having served at the right hand of John Ashcroft has either been the author of many of the scary aspects of The Patriot Act, or a humble servant who failed to speak up as our citizens rights were threatened and or eroded. Also, Gonzales was the brains behind the decision that perhaps captured enemy combatants from Iraq and Afghanistan had no rights under the Geneva Convention, and could perhaps be treated less humanely than first thought. It's a slippery slope and we are sliding faster.
As for Rice, (whom I consider to be very intelligent), she, as National Security Advisor, testified that neither she or anyone else ever thought Al Queda might try to use commercial airliners to strike at the U.S. But, then we learn that the C.I.A. had surmised just such a possibility; this has obviously been, and can be, an even worsening problem.
For the last four years, as Secretary of State, Colin Powell has had the appearance of being isolated in position; apparently shut out by Rice, Vice-President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and the President's Political Strategist Karl Rove. It's a frightening scenario with a serious precedent For those of us old enough to remember Richard Nixon, it's similar to Nixon's impotent first-term Secretary of State William Rogers. Nixon deferred instead to National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, who became Nixon's Secretary of State in the second term.
I'm not that familiar with Rogers, but Powell, as one of the architects of the First Gulf War, deserved better.
But, this White House, much like that of Nixon, seems to think it works best in an informational vacuum. Nixon's vacuum eventually led to paranoia, a problem that became evident shortly after the second election.
Nixon, when elected, vowed to get us out of Vietnam with “honor.” Seven years later, after an escalation in bombing, we had pictures in our living rooms of helicopters leaving from the rooftop of Saigon's American Embassy, leaving behind many of the allies, who had depended on us for their lives.
Let's hope that President Bush's “Pocket Cabinet” serves him better. The President needs and deserves those around him to be allowed to tell him “No!” and their opinions be respected and considered. Such advice didn't seem to be present in his first term. This term, we'll have to see.
The word for the week is Svengali
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