The Turning Point
We’re about to enter one of the most exciting periods in the history of our nation. Having won a significant victory in this election, President Bush has a reshuffling of his cabinet on the table. Some appointees are tired out and some have become liabilities, and Bush has a chance to set a new tone for the next four years and also lay the groundwork for the election of 2008. Who he picks to fill these slots and which jobs he gives to which people will tell us a great deal about Bush, his true allegiances and the future of the Republican Party. In addition, Bush’s new cabinet choices will be a test of how real the neocon conspiracy which so many liberals talk about really is.
Powell, Ridge and Ashcroft are likely to be leaving and a few others may as well – quite possibly even Rumsfeld. There’s a large field of interested applicants for their jobs and we all need to watch Bush’s choices very easily because they will tell us an awful lot. Among the contenders are Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Bernie Kerik, Condoleeza Rice, John Danforth, Fred Thompson, John Warner, Jeb Bush and a variety of lesser figures. Some of these job seekers are likely presidential or vice presidential candidates in the next election and what Bush does with them will tell us who he wants to succeed him.
Giuliani is the key figure. He worked really, really hard for Bush in the last election so he deserves and will almost certainly get some job. But Giuliani is about as liberal a Republican as you can find, at least on social issues. He’s totally out of step with the neocons, but of course, that also makes him one of the most appealing Republicans to the general population. The jobs he’s best qualified for are Attorney General and Director of Homeland Security, both of which are likely to be available. Which job he gets will say everything about the Bush administration and the neocons. If they put him in as Director of Homeland Security that’s the worst sign. That means they don’t really trust him and don’t want to advance his career. It’s a position which can be made a scapegoat if there’s another terrorist attack and it’s mostly an administrative job with limited public exposure. If the neocons are the extremists many claim them to be then this would be where they put him. He’s best qualified to be Attorney General and this is the most logical place to put him. It’s an important position with a high public profile, but doesn’t appear to be a promise of future advancement. It’s a position from which he could run for president, but doesn’t give him the absolute endorsement of the current administration. This position would say positive things about the neocons, since it has a lot of influence over social policy. If Giuliani gets Secretary of State that’s a full-out endorsement for the presidency in 2008. Because he’s not terribly well qualified it’s a way for him to get foreign policy experience, and it’s the most public and most prominent position available. If Giuliani is Secretary of State two months from now then he’s our next Repugblican president, because that’s the best way to give him an edge running against Hillary Clinton who’s the almost certain Democratic candidate. This would be a brilliant move by the administration and would definitively prove that they are devoted to the good of the country and their party more than the neocon agenda.
McCain is an interesting figure in the whole mix. He’s the second best contender for the Republican nomination in 2008, but he’s less popular with the administration than Giuliani is and didn’t work as hard for Bush in the election. The logical choice for him is Secretary of Defense. If he gets this slot then he’s in position to run for president if he does a good job, or could take a fall for the administration and no one there would cry over him. He’s a viable choice for Homeland Security and unlikely for Secretary of State or Attorney General. If they give a good slot to Giuliani they ought to give a job to McCain as well, and it ought to be a lesser position. If they really hate him they’ll offer him Homeland Security. If they want to let him hang himself it will be Secretary of Defense, though that might be a launching point for his presidential campaign.
Condoleeza Rice is the potential wildcard. She’s a long shot for the presidency in 2008 but number one on the Vice Presidential candidate list. They need to put her in a more prominent position because she deserves it and because she’s a black woman. And she’s very competent. The logical choice for her would be Secretary of State, but Homeland Security and Defense would be viable as well. She’s the only major figure who wouldn’t be taking a major hit if she got Homeland Security, and although she’s got military expertise her lack of actual military service counts against her for Secretary of Defense. What she gets says nothing about the neocon agenda, but it says alot about Republican plans for 2008. The more prominent she is the more worried they are about Hillary.
Danforth and Warner are the easy fallback figures for the administration and they’re compatible with the neocons. If they get prominent positions – likely Attorney General and Secretary of Defense respectively, then that’s a sign the neocons are going against pragmatism and towards ideology in their choices. That’s a bad sign for the Republican party in 2008 and probably not great for the next 4 years in America either. Jeb Bush is another wild card who has probably earned a slot for winning Florida for his brother, but isn’t terribly well qualified for anything, so his likely job would be down the list, like Housing or Education. Fred Thompson is another long shot who really deserves an administration job and would make an excellent VP choice for 2008 because he’s from the south and very personable. He’s qualified for Attorney General, but it would be a bit of a surprise to see him there.
Here’s the line-up I’d like to see:
Secretary of State: Rudy Giuliani
Attorney General: Fred Thompson
Secretary of Defense: John McCain
Director of Homeland Security: Condoleeza Rice (or staying as Nat Sec Advisor)
Secretary of Housing: Jeb Bush
Surgeon General: Ron Paul (just for fun)
Republican Ticket in 2008: Giuliani/Rice (winning)
Here’s the line-up I expect to see:
Secretary of State: Condoleeza Rice
Attorney General: Rudy Giuliani
Secretary of Defense: John Warner
Director of Homeland Security: Bernie Kerik
Secretary of Housing: Jeb Bush
Secretary of Something Unimportant: John McCain
Republican Line-Up in 2008: A Mystery
Here’s the neocon lineup we need to worry about:
Secretary of State: Condoleeza Rice
Attorney General: John Danforth
Secretary of Defense: Donald Rumsfeld
Director of Homeland Security: Rudy Giuliani
Secretary of Whatever: Jeb Bush
Nothing: John McCain
Republican Line-Up in 2008: Something bizarre and scary
So there you have it. As a side note I have to mention that after researching the bios of the candidates and seeing their pictures Danforth is the youngest looking 68 year old I’ve ever seen and Thompson is one of the oldest looking 62 year olds I’ve ever seen. At 60 Giuliani is also much younger than I realized, which means he has more political life in him than I had feared, though he does have past health issues, which is always a problem for a presidential candidate.
In my opinion, moving Giuliani to a prominent position in the administration is essential if the Republicans want to stop Hillary Clinton in 2008, and a ticket of Giuliani/Rice in 2008 would be truly formidable. So we’ll see if Bush and his advisors have enough common sense to override ideology and make the right appointments.