Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A model for second-term recovery

Interesting piece by David Rothkopf: "What Would W Do?" Tagline: "Lessons in disaster recovery from Bush's underappreciated second-term rebound." Excerpt:
First, and perhaps foremost in terms of lessons that Obama ought to heed from how Bush handled his second term, is how the 43rd president re-engineered his cabinet. He didn't just change who was in top posts, but he changed the way his cabinet worked. This process began prior to Hurricane Katrina as he moved Condoleezza Rice from her post as national security advisor to secretary of state and asked her deputy, Stephen Hadley, to replace her in the national security advisor's corner office in the West Wing. As secretary of state, Colin Powell, like Rice and others, suffered during Bush's first term as a consequence of a national security process that was overly dominated by the close, sometimes process-circumventing collaboration between Vice President Dick Cheney and his former mentor, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Rice told the president she was reluctant to accept the new post if it meant that she, like Powell, would end up being locked in permanent fights with Rumsfeld. This helped advance a process of retooling that was supported by having her onetime deputy at the National Security Council (NSC), not just because of the closeness between the two, but because of Hadley's skill as a manager and honest broker who knew the NSC's workings as well as any individual who had ever assumed the role.
Me: It's worth pointing out that Bush's "rebound" was really a question of getting substance right, or at least better, and not so much about rebounding in popularity and political clout. In any case, reminders of the uneasy interaction between Rumsfeld (and Cheney) on one hand and Rice on the other will, I think, bolster the latter's reputation, maybe with some implications for a few years down the road.

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