State Dept. Changes Seen if Bush Reelected (washingtonpost.com) By Glenn Kessler, Washington Post Staff Writer; Monday, August 4, 2003; Page A01: Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and his deputy, Richard L. Armitage, have signaled to the White House that they intend to step down even if President Bush is reelected, setting the stage for a substantial reshaping of the administration's national security team that has remained unchanged through the September 2001 terrorist attacks, two wars and numerous other crises.
I have never, not even once, understood what kept this man in the administration beyond the first year. I have never even once understood what kept him there well past the time when it was obvious to everyone in the world that his opinion and position on issues counted for nothing with this administration. What kept him there through their repeated undermining of his position, both malevolent and casual. After all, either he was somehow so desperately out of touch with his leaders that he was announcing positions that were even that very day reversed by the administration (pick an issue, any issue, and you'll find that the announced position of the State Department was almost invariably overruled by the administration within 24 hours at the most) or he was being deliberately misled, OR he was announcing positions in the forlorn hope that the administration would simply go along so as not to appear foolish. The first and the last devolve to utter incompetence, and whatever else he may be, Powell does not seem to be incompetent. The second devolves to administration malevolence, and frankly, we've seen them behave that way to their own. Most prominently Powell, yes, but other department secretaries have been at the wrong end of the administration whip. (Remember Whitman, anyone? The most anti-environmental protection head of the EPA in a generation wound up getting the bums rush out of office, more or less for being too pro-environmental protection.)
Armitage recently told national security adviser Condoleezza Rice that he and Powell will leave on Jan. 21, 2005, the day after the next presidential inauguration, sources familiar with the conversation said. Powell has indicated to associates that a commitment made to his wife, rather than any dismay at the administration's foreign policy, is a key factor in his desire to limit his tenure to one presidential term.
Can't say as I'm surprised. It must have been terribly difficult for his wife to stand by and watch this administration tear him down, and watch him simply stand there and take it.
Rice and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz are the leading candidates to replace Powell, according to sources inside and outside the administration. Rice appears to have an edge because of her closeness to the president, though it is unclear whether she would be interested in running the State Department's vast bureaucracy.
... Oh, dear.
Well, on the up side, this would mean that the administration and its state department would probably be on the same page for the first time, assuming they get a second term. On the down side, there will be no voice for moderation at all, nowever completely ignored it might have been. I suppose there's at least some PR value to having a member of the administration saying, "You know, there are alternatives to bombing the crap out of the Enemy du Jour, really there are."Posted by iain at August 04, 2003 12:11 PM