November 18, 2004


Bush Crafting Cabinet Out of His Inner Circle
: Supporters and critics say his selection of close confidants for high-level positions should reduce disagreement and consolidate his power. (Janet Hook and Warren Vieth, November 18, 2004, LA Times)

The personnel changes he has announced would install some of his closest confidants from the White House, and even from his years as Texas governor, atop key Cabinet departments.

That is a clear signal that Bush will continue — and perhaps intensify — a leadership style that emphasizes personal loyalty, secrecy and reliance on advisors with whom he has longtime personal bonds.

Republicans close to the White House say that reflects the president's determination to act aggressively on his second-term priorities and to reinforce the storied discipline of a White House where internal disputes have been kept largely from public view. His appointments also could consolidate the president's power, solidify his conservative agenda and reduce the possibility that Cabinet agencies might undercut administration policy during his second term.

"There is likely to be even more cohesion in effort and message than in the first four years — and there was considerable cohesion in the first four," said Nicholas E. Calio, Bush's first director of legislative affairs. "It strengthens his hand over the Cabinet departments, which can always spin out of control."

But some critics and nonpartisan analysts say that Bush risks exacerbating one of the perceived pitfalls of his first term: His apparently limited tolerance for dissent, which some critics say contributed to poor planning for the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq.

It's great when the press and Democrats ask mwho's going to tell him an idea is stupid--have they listened to themselves the last five years?

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 18, 2004 7:25 AM
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