Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Friday | November 22, 2002

Bush's cabinet remains stable

I have said it before, and I'll say it again, Bush's loyalty to his cabinet is amazing. Some say it's because he can't admit he's ever wrong (particularly in the case of his economic team), but whatever. The fact his team has remained unchanged his entire term is, I think, quite laudable.

Word has it that few changes are in order, even as Bush launches his reelection fight. As far as Rove is concerned, the electorate endorsed the current team, and except for one rumored change (Ag secretary Ann Veneman, who has breast cancer), not much should change.

However, two cabinet members may be on the verge of resigning. Budget director Mitch Daniels is being drafted by the Indiana GOP as a 2004 guv candidate. HSS Sec Tommy Thompson is considering a run against Sen. Russ Feingold in Wisconsin.

The future of Bush's economic team, the subject of much scorn amongst Wall Street and GOP insiders, appears uncertain. O'Neill is on thin ice:

The decision with the highest stakes for Bush probably will be whether to rebuff the periodic calls from Wall Street and some conservatives to replace Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill. His bluntness has sometimes caused headaches. Many administration officials expect Bush's reelection to depend on his stewardship of the economy. They believe he would be in a stronger position if he started fresh in January.

John D. Podesta, a Georgetown University law professor who was chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, said the widespread view in both parties is that O'Neill is "not only weak but perceived as weak, and that in itself can be debilitating."

Bush's economic adviser, Lawrence Lindsey, is also in hot water, especially if the economy fails to improve. And this is where Bush's legendary loyalty will be tested -- will he stick with his economic team, even as campaign pressures will force him to appear to be "doing something" about the economy, or will he ditch O'Neill and Lindsey and thus admit he was wrong about them.

And if there's something that Bush holds more dearly than the concept of loyalty, it's the notion that he's never wrong.

Posted November 22, 2002 12:34 AM | Comments (32)


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