Robert Novak


The recent appearance with Secretary of State Colin Powell at a Bush administration inter-agency meeting of newly appointed State Department official Mitchell Reiss suggested he is a major new force in devising U.S. policy toward North Korea.

Reiss, dean of international affairs at the College of William and Mary, was named State's director of Policy Planning on July 21. The occupant of that office normally does not attend such senior meetings, but Reiss is an expert on North Korean arms control. He is viewed with suspicion among administration hard-liners who want no concessions made to the Pyongyang regime.

Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly will continue as lead U.S. negotiator on the Korean question. However, depending on how the talks progress, Kelly could be replaced by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, or even by Powell.


A national poll showing only 33 percent approval normally would be bad news for a politician, but the Gallup survey showing that level for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay pleases his political operation. That's because the poll puts DeLay's disapproval at 19 percent, despite Democratic efforts to make him a campaign wedge against Republican candidates.

In contrast, Gallup puts Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle's favorable at 31 percent and his unfavorable at 35 percent. Daschle appears a much bigger burden for Democratic candidates if his name is used in Republican campaigns.

A footnote: Sen. Max Baucus, senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the Rushmore Policy Council's tax exemption because of its ads attacking Daschle in South Dakota. A private Republican poll shows Daschle only one percentage point ahead of former Rep. John Thune.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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