My very own cabinet reshuffle
Brad DeLong has been urging “grown-up Republicans” for the past year to force Bush and Cheney’s resignations. In latest post on this theme, DeLong expresses his half-serious wish that “the presidential succession passes to Colin Powell.” Now, besides the fact that Brad’s theories of political science rest on shaky ground, and besides the fact that ...
Brad DeLong has been urging "grown-up Republicans" for the past year to force Bush and Cheney's resignations. In latest post on this theme, DeLong expresses his half-serious wish that "the presidential succession passes to Colin Powell." Now, besides the fact that Brad's theories of political science rest on shaky ground, and besides the fact that the only time I can think of either party forcing a sitting president not to run again was Johnson in 1968 (and even then it wasn't "grown-up Democrats" doing the pushing), I'm a bit puzzled by DeLong's embrace of Colin Powell. Maybe Powell is a moderate Republican, but that doesn't seem to have made him a particularly good Secretary of State. As the New York Times and Washington Post pointed out last year in their autopsies of the diplomatic run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom, and as I highlighted in this post, the Secretary of State did not exert a lot of diplomatic effort. This is from the Times account:
Brad DeLong has been urging “grown-up Republicans” for the past year to force Bush and Cheney’s resignations. In latest post on this theme, DeLong expresses his half-serious wish that “the presidential succession passes to Colin Powell.” Now, besides the fact that Brad’s theories of political science rest on shaky ground, and besides the fact that the only time I can think of either party forcing a sitting president not to run again was Johnson in 1968 (and even then it wasn’t “grown-up Democrats” doing the pushing), I’m a bit puzzled by DeLong’s embrace of Colin Powell. Maybe Powell is a moderate Republican, but that doesn’t seem to have made him a particularly good Secretary of State. As the New York Times and Washington Post pointed out last year in their autopsies of the diplomatic run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom, and as I highlighted in this post, the Secretary of State did not exert a lot of diplomatic effort. This is from the Times account:
Throughout the last several months, one of the puzzles at the State Department and throughout the administration is why Mr. Powell, one of the best-known and best-liked Americans in many parts of the world, never engaged in a campaign of public appearances abroad as energetic as the telephone and broadcast interview campaign he pressed from his office, home and car. ‘His travels abroad are too few and far between,’ said an official, noting that the only trips Mr. Powell made to Europe since the beginning of last year were to accompany the president or to attend short-lived conferences…. Mr. Powell is known to dislike travel. ‘I think I have a right balance between phone diplomacy, diplomacy here in Washington, and diplomacy on the road,’ he said recently when questioned about his schedule. (emphasis added)
A secretary of State who dislikes travel — my kind of diplomat. However, Brad’s post did get me to thinking about Bush’s foreign policy team and my own qualms with their performance. Tenet and Negroponte have recently left their positions. Rumsfeld should resign. Powell is lackluster. Fairly or unfairly, Ashcroft as Attorney General has been an automatic campaign contribution machine for Democrats. Foreign policy professionals are thoroughly disenchanted with the current team. Since Bush and Cheney themselves aren’t going anywhere, I’ve got an idea — how about a cabinet overhaul now instead of November!! Of course, this presents an exciting but challenging task — picking a new foreign affairs cabinet that meets the following criteria:
1) They have solid Republican bona-fides; 2) They’re effective administrators (for cabinet officials); 3) They have gravitas; 4) They can play nicely with each other; 5) Those needing Senate confirmation could get it with a minimum of fuss
With those criteria in mind — and do bear in mind that this is a blog post, so it’s not like I’ve thought every detail of this out — what’s my new cabinet look like? Secretary of Defense — John McCain. It’s worth remembering that back in 2000, John McCain was the preferred candidate for a lot of prominent neocons. Here’s a way to snuff out all that Kerry-McCain mumbo-jumbo and make McCain’s star quality work for the Republicans. Plus, he knows a thing or two about defense matters. Attorney General — John Danforth. This position is a lightning rod for social conservatives — but no one could doubt Danforth’s adherence to conservative values or his sense of duty. Danforth commands respect on both sides of the aisle for his Senatorial record as well as his recent efforts to end the civil war in Sudan. This pick would please conservatives and not piss off moderates at the same time — not an easy task. Director of Central Intelligence — Brent Scowcroft. Let’s face it, the intelligence community is a mess right now — what’s needed is a technocrat’s technoract, someone who can clean house while commanding the respect of intelligence professionals. Scowcroft has experience in just about every policy position in Washington, and currently chairs the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. [Why would he leave a lucrative consulting group to go to take a position lower than NSC advisor?–ed. Er, a sense of duty.] Secretary of State — Kenneth Dam. Dam was Deputy Secretary of State under George Shultz and Deputy Secretary of the Treasury under Paul O’Neill. To my knowledge, no one in DC has ever said a bad word about him. I’m going to go out on a limb and say he’s got sufficient experience for the job. National Security Advisor — Bob Blackwill. By all accounts, Blackwill is the Republican version of Richard Holbrooke — an arrogant SOB who gets the job done. The NSC advisor needs to be someone who can be an honest broker in the policy process, unafraid of large egos, and able to be candid with the president. Blackwill’s perfect for the job — besides, as Lawrence Kaplan points out, Blackwill seems to be evolving into a shadow NSC advisor anyway. Treasury Secretary — Robert Zoellick. In the spirit of keeping one current Bush appointee, promote this guy and finally have a Treasury chief that understands there’s an international component of the job. Secretary of Homeland Security — Rudoplh Guliani. If you think the intelligence community has problems, consider this monstrosity of a department for a second. This job is much tougher than DCI — at least the CIA has some sense of esprit de cotps. DHS is a conglomeration of smaller agencies that have been discarded by other departments. What’s needed here is a centralizer, someone who can meld an awkward organizational chart into something resembling a functional bureaucracy. I think Guliani fits that mold. United Nations Ambassador — Robert Kagan. This is always an awkward slot, because it usually goes to someone who lost out in the Secretary of State/NSC Advisor Sweepstakes. Plus, the UN ambassador needs to be someone who can play nicely with other countries, but still accepts the original neoconservative principle that the U.N. is a bastion of anti-Americanism and general silliness. Alas, Daniel Patrick Moynihan is neither Republican nor alive. But Kagan comes the closest to embodying those principles. Seems like a nice mix of responsible realists and responsible neoconservatives to me. Someone get me David Broder‘s private line to float this trial balloon! Readers are hereby encouraged to submit alternative candidates — provided they meet the criteria listed above.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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