In other words, until the administration's reorganization is complete, it will be impossible to tell whether it's going right or not. But that doesn't stop the administration's critics from assuming that complaints are proof that Bush is doing things wrong. Yet who among us can doubt that if John Kerry had been elected, and it was under his watch that the CIA was being turned around, that the New York Times and others wouldn't hail the griping as proof that Kerry was doing what needed to be done?
Or consider the wailing from all quarters about the proposed replacement of Colin Powell with Condoleezza Rice. Editorial boards across the country have been wringing their hands over the fact that President Bush is replacing his "dissenting" secretary of state with a Bush "loyalist." The San Francisco Chronicle warns of the dangers of "groupthink." The Washington Post, New York Times, Dallas Morning News, The New Republic and countless others fret that replacing Powell with Rice signals that Bush's new secretary of state will - gasp! - actually agree with the president's foreign policy! "The president and vice president are dispatching their toadies to the agencies to quell dissent," Maureen Dowd writes with her usual restraint.
I guess I need to reread my "Federalist Papers." I thought that the separation of powers referred to the separation of the different branches of government - not separation of the president's political appointees. I didn't know that the president was obliged to appoint cabinet secretaries and agency heads who disagree with him on the very policies they've been asked to implement. The editors of the New York Times are actually aghast that Porter Goss has informed the bureaucracy that they are there to serve the commander-in-chief.
Look, I think it's good for the president to get differing points of view from his subordinates. But that's not what the gripers are really complaining about. If the issue were really the need for more dissenters in the administration, why isn't anyone demanding that Bush appoint people who think he's not hawkish enough? The obvious answer is that the gripers think the president is a fool for not appointing people who agree with them.
George Bush won the election. By my back-of-the-envelope calculations he said 7 trillion times that we needed to stand firm, stay the course, and be steadfast in the war on terror and in Iraq. His opponent said almost as many times that if Bush won, we'd get more of the same. Bush won. But, you see, that's irrelevant because Bush can never win, even when he does.