November 04, 2004

Who Exits Stage Left (or Right) First?

By whatever mechanism, Bush needs to deliver a strong message that he is looking at the next four years differently. True in foreign policy as well, it is particularly true on Iraq. Bush stubbornly refused during the campaign to admit error, and before that he tolerated internal divisions, battles and confusion that handicapped the war effort. Not four more years of that, please.

Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are the symbols of these divisions. Each may be reluctant to award a "victory" to the other by leaving first. That possibility has been factored into the rivalry.

"Tell me how long Rumsfeld will stay, add a day, and Colin will be out of there," says one of Powell's friends. Rumsfeld also has reasons to spend another year, or less, in office to cancel out any impression of leaving in failure.

But Bush should avoid temporizing on such important appointments. Powell and Rumsfeld ought to be immediately reappointed for full terms or become part of a general turnover in the Cabinet by Inauguration Day. And Bush should begin now in a very visible way to consult with senior Democrats, including Kerry; with war critics within his own party, such as Sens. Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar; and with foreign leaders who have limited their support and enthusiasm for Bush's policies.

Reelection should give him the confidence as well as the opportunity for this. So should the fact that his vision of moderate Islamic leaders taking on the burden of fighting Islamist terrorist networks is generally right, even if its implementation has been flawed. At the very least, Tuesday's result gives the nation a chance to know the ending of the story of George W. Bush's effort to remake the Middle East.

Jim Hoagland, talking sense, in today's WaPo.

So, who is going to leave first--Rummy or Powell? Or are they both heading out? Or neither? Thoughts and assorted scuttlebutt welcome in comments.

Question: Does the strong Republican showing in the Senate races enhance the chances of any of Lugar or Hagel (State) or McCain (Defense) entering the cabinet should Rummy and/or Powell leave?

MORE: A reader writes in:

Ref your post on State/Defense positions. My sources at State say Powell has made it an open secret he will be leaving. Likewise, I hear Rumsfeld likes his job and wants to see through the transformation/global rebasing he has started. Rumsfeld's love of the job and desire to stay were verified by a WJS reporter who covers the Pentagon that I spoke with earlier this year. BTW, Ambassador Coats in Berlin has made no secret over his desire to be SECDEF should Rumsfeld leave. However, I'm told his lobbying have had no traction in DC.

This is the CW, of course. Does anyone have contra info, namely that Powell is making noises he might stick around and Rummy that he might, about a year or so from now, leave?

Posted by Gregory at November 4, 2004 01:45 PM
Comments

Cheney ascendent, and all that that entails.

Posted by: praktike at November 4, 2004 02:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

1 - Rummy stays; he's too necessary for the many reforms still needed within the pentagon.

2 - Powell leaves - because he has failed to reform State.

3 - Wolfie stays because assertively spreading liberty/demiocracy may be tough but it is the CORE of the foreign policy - and homeland security.
Wolfie may replace Condy who may replace Colin.
But I think Danforth may replace Colin, and Condy replace Danforth.

4 - Ashcroft leaves and is replaced by Rudy or Estrada. Probably Estrada -as Rudy may want to preserve his 2008 bid against Hillary.

5 - Rehnquist leaves and is replaced by Clarence, and Clarence is replaced by Larrry Thompson.

SUMMARY:

Rummy DOD
Wolfie NSA
Danforth DOS
Condy UNA
Estrada DOJ
Thomas CJ-SCOTUS
Thompson SCOTUS

Posted by: reliapundit at November 4, 2004 02:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Is it just me, or is Powell's (purported) plan to stay one and only one day longer than Rumsfeld incredibly petty and self-centered?

Posted by: R C Dean at November 4, 2004 02:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hmmm, let me humbly suggest that all of their fates regarding their appointments lie with the man who just won re-election, rather than with themselves (unless, like Powell, they've indicated they are planning to leave).

Posted by: Tim at November 4, 2004 03:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Am I missing something? Bush was reelected to stay in charge of foreign policy and keep Kerry and his ilk from making disasterous decisions in the war on terror. Now Bush is supposed to give them input? I wouldn't give Mr. "Wrong war wrong time" the time of day! As to contrary foreign "allies"; when they show some sign of recognizing what the WOT is all about, maybe then they'll be worth listening to.

Posted by: Cranch at November 4, 2004 03:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

A more natural choice for Chief Justice would be Anthony Scalia. But the Democrats will fillabuster either choice.

Posted by: BigFire at November 4, 2004 03:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think Bush should, at least in a cursory manner, reach across the isle to Dems and see where it gets him.

As far as reaching across the Atlantic: I think not. It may be 4 long years, and it might be time for the EU centered opposition to reach out to us.

Posted by: MikeMac64 at November 4, 2004 05:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Disagree with Rumsfield. I hope he stays another 4. His transformation of DoD is not yet done. Don't care who is SoS - Condi is OK if Powell leaves. The suggestion above that Danforth is a good choice made me laugh. Thomas for Chief; Estrada to take his place. Ashcroft to stay.

Posted by: Jack at November 4, 2004 05:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I told you so.

Posted by: praktike at November 4, 2004 05:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mr Hoagland's quote - "And Bush should begin now in a very visible way to consult with senior Democrats, including Kerry; with war critics within his own party, such as Sens. Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar; and with foreign leaders who have limited their support and enthusiasm for Bush's policies." - seems to assume that the people he names, including the foreign leaders, are the winners of the election and have earned the right to share power with Mr. Bush. I submit that he is NOT "talking sense, in today's WaPo." I submit that his losing leaders consult with the winning President instead.

Posted by: Bob Taylor at November 4, 2004 06:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I hope Lieberman takes over at State.

Posted by: Anonymous at November 4, 2004 08:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Not four more years of that, please.

Christ, you are something else.

Posted by: Toadmonster at November 5, 2004 12:17 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Whatever the merits or policy axes being ground, the fact is that, yesterday, Powell asked the senior people at State to agree to stay on another year. The implication is that therefore he will as well, as he could not send such a signal without the same commitment.

Not a comment, just a bit of info to inject into the discussion. Make of it what you will.

Posted by: James of DC at November 5, 2004 09:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Whatever the merits or policy axes being ground, the fact is that, yesterday, Powell asked the senior people at State to agree to stay on another year. The implication is that therefore he will as well, as he could not send such a signal without the same commitment.

Not a comment, just a bit of info to inject into the discussion. Make of it what you will.

Posted by: James of DC at November 5, 2004 09:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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