WILL MELT BY SPRING
By Jon Christian Ryter
December 7, 2004
As you watch the exodus of Bush cabinet members hitting the revolving door, you can't help wonder if anyone other than Dr. Condoleeza Rice (the Secretary of State-nominee) and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld—and perhaps HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson (who replaced Sen. Mel Martinez), Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and VA Secretary Anthony Principi, will survive.
Already gone are Attorney General John Ashcroft and Commerce Secretary Don Evans (a close personal friend of the president's who was the first cabinet member to prove that loyalty is not enough). Packing to leave after three years of intense, intra-departmental infighting that always made the evening news it was a foregone conclusion early on that Secretary of State Colin Powell who could not bend the State Department bureaucracy enough to do the bidding of the President— would not be part of the Bush Encore. Also gone was Education Secretary of Rod Paige who appeared to be so completely out of his element in Washington that he didn't even know he was incompetent. His entire focus was on Bush's No Child Left Behind program. Paige failed. Not only were America's schools still leaving the slow learners behind, Paige added the achievers to the "left behind" group by stripping the funding that provided special programs for gifted, high achiever students as well. One could say Paige was an equal opportunity education secretary. He left everyone behind. That's why Bush picked Margaret Spelling to replace him. As Bush's Domestic Advisor, Spelling was the originator of the No Child Left Behind program.
Gone also are Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, Michigan Senator Spencer Abraham, and Department of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson Gone also is Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Both Thompson and Ridge signaled early on that they would be leaving if there was a second Bush term. Because of that, it is unclear if Bush asked for their resignations.
While many political pundits, myself included, believed the logical political appointee to replace Ridge would have been America's mayor—Rudy Giuliani, he didn't want the job. Rudy has his eyes set on a larger target and does not want to let anything distract him from the brass ring.
While Giuliani wants to be President, he is nevertheless debating a 2006 rematch against Hillary for the U.S. Senate seat from New York. But make no bones about it, he intends to become the 44th President of the United States. Giuliani knows if he runs and beats Hillary in New York, he will have convinced the media pundits—and the money barons—he has sufficient national political imagery to win the White House. He is popular enough to snag the GOP nomination without Senate credentials, but the question remains whether he will gamble the White House on a vendetta-rematch against Hillary since, if he loses the Senate race in 2006, his chance of snagging the GOP nomination will die with that race.
Bush offered Homeland Security to Rudy, but Giuliani declined the job, recommending instead the street savvy former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who became part of the Bush Team in the 8th inning of the campaign (again, on Giuliani's recommendation) and spent some time training Iraqi cops in Baghdad. Kerik is not a man with star clusters for eyes, so he will be a loyal team player for Bush. Kerik is viewed as a Bush loyalist, unlike Giuliani, who is playing his own game and likes to control how the cards are shuffled. Since Bush's first criteria for membership in the 2004 Insider's Club has always been loyalty, Giuliani would never pass that test with anything higher than a "C-". Bush likes an A-team.
(Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior, who has carried Bush's environmental torch—but not without a considerable amount of controversy—is a coin toss.) That leaves Treasury Secretary John Snow, who came on board to replace Paul O'Neil who was fired by Bush several months before the election. Snow was an odd choice at the time since he was not a banker. But since the issue that Bush knew would haunt him during the campaign was jobs, Snow—a businessman— made sense.
When Snow was appointed, treasury officials and media moguls alike were laying odds on just how long Snow, who was a neophyte in the world of banking, would last since he was viewed as vulnerable to the sharks in the investment banking world. Being generous, both gave him a year. Earlier this week, the Financial Times of London reported that a senior Bush Administration official jokingly told a Washington Post reporter that Snow could stay on as long as he wanted provided it was "not too long."
Already feeling the pressure to join the first term exodus, Snow reportedly asked the President for a year to turn the economy around. The Bush people, who knew Snow was a temporary plug between Administrations, are talking six months. Since the election, the price of oil has dropped over $10 per barrel. If it continues to drop and new job growth continues, the economy will strengthen and Snow might get his year. Unfortunately, new job growth dropped in November. Two more months with negative job growth and Snow will bite the bullet earlier than expected. Bush will be naming a new Treasury Secretary by spring.
From the standpoint of logic, the exodus of jobs from the United States is now America's biggest export. With joblessness rising and job creation diminishing, simple logic suggests that anyone demanding answers would first look at the Secretary of Labor—not at the Secretary of the Treasury. Politically, America's millionaire "dollar-a-year bureaucrats" who serve as the department heads of presidents to pad their resumes for the transnational coterie after they leave office, live in a weird limbo of quid pro quos where juggernauts are exempt from judgment. Elaine Chao, Secretary of Labor cannot be fired simply because she is married to the Majority Whip of the Senate—Mitch McConnell. Therefore, the woes of the labor will fall Fed's spokesman in the Administration—the Secretary of the Treasury.
When the axe falls on John Snow—and it will, Bush has already staked out several replacement candidates. Three of the most prominent are Stan O'Neal, the CEO of Merrill Lynch; John Mack, the recently ousted head Credit Suisse-First Boston; and Steve Schwarzman, the CEO of Blackstone, an equity trading house. Since Bush is dumping his entire economic team, there is a possibility that all three of these powerhouse financiers could end up in the Administration.
O'Neal appears the most likely candidate because he fits the criteria Bush has established for accomplishing what he failed to achieve in 2001 a completely bipartisan cabinet that is comprised of both moderate Democrats and Republicans who can successfully reach across the aisle and artfully eliminate the congressional gridlock. Rumors began surfacing in Washington over the weekend that Bush plans to offer the job of UN Ambassador to Bill Clinton. While nothing "official" has surfaced, don't be surprised to learn in the few days that former President Bill Clinton—on his first step towards a seat on the US Supreme Court, was officially offered the post. And, that he accepted the job.
Bush is very determined to place key Democrats in key cabinet positions. And Clinton joining his administration would be the key to unlocking the door that spans the vast chasm between the aisles in Congress—and would do much to enhance Clinton's historic legacy. O'Neal, an African-American—like Kerik—is a Democrat.
If Bush is going to turn the economy around with robust job growth combined with a slowdown of the exodus of jobs leaving this nation, together with greatly increased exports of everything from agriculture to steel, he needs a strong domestic team that knows what they are doing in Washington—and he needs a very persuasive man in the UN who may or may not know what "it" means.
© 2004 Jon C. Ryter - All Rights Reserved
Jon Christian Ryter is the pseudonym of a former newspaper reporter with the Parkersburg, WV Sentinel. He authored a syndicated newspaper column, Answers From The Bible, from the mid-1970s until 1985. Answers From The Bible was read weekly in many suburban markets in the United States.
Today, Jon is an advertising executive with the Washington Times. His website, www.jonchristianryter.com has helped him establish a network of mid-to senior-level Washington insiders who now provide him with a steady stream of material for use both in his books and in the investigative reports that are found on his website. E-Mail: BAFFauthor@aol.com
While Giuliani wants to be President, he is nevertheless debating a 2006 rematch against Hillary for the U.S. Senate seat from New York.