January 8, 2005


Condi's First Victory: She doesn't pick John Bolton as her deputy. (Fred Kaplan, Jan. 7, 2005, Slate)

A few weeks remain before her confirmation hearings as secretary of state, but Condoleezza Rice has already won a crucial battle. The victory came Thursday afternoon, with the news that she will appoint Robert Zoellick, currently the U.S. trade representative, as her deputy. President Bush confirmed the reports with an announcement this morning.

The major papers exiled the story deep inside the news pages—just another piece about second-term personnel shifts. Rice and those around her know it's much, much more. Last November, when President Bush picked her to be the new top diplomat, I wrote that her first test would be whether she'd get to name her own No. 2—or whether she'd be forced to take John Bolton, the neocons' favorite candidate for the job. [...]

Earlier reports placed Zoellick in line to be the next president of the World Bank, a more prestigious post than deputy at State. But professional diplomats tend to go where their president wants them to go. (Meanwhile, rumors are swirling that the World Bank job might be awarded to Colin Powell. The notion makes sense on two levels. First, Robert McNamara pioneered the idea that a departing, war-weary Cabinet secretary could take refuge there. Second, the assignment would keep Powell from writing the tell-all memoir for which publishers are no doubt lining up to offer him huge advances.)

Puts Mr. Zoellick in line for Secretary of State when she leaves to run for president.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 8, 2005 8:14 PM
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