Sunday, March 12, 2006

The end of the Cheney era

For us at The Reaction, this one qualifies for three of our ongoing series:

  • Must-reads of the day;
  • Signs of the Renaissance; and
  • Things to be Happy About.


According to David Rothkopf, writing in The Washington Post: "The Dick Cheney era of foreign policy is over."

What's happened? Consider this: "Cheney's influence has waned. He's lost his top aide, his public approval ratings are dismal, and his network of supporters inside the administration has dissolved." He's now "a role player," no longer "the puppetmaster" running the show over and above even the president. His main ally, Rumsfeld, "has lost a lot of his clout". His boss, once the foreign policy neophyte, "is better schooled, more experienced and more confident" (hard as that may be to believe). Rice, once Bush's tutor, "is now more policy architect than presidential aide" at the State Department, which is more influential now than it ever was under Powell, even with Bolton moved to the U.N. She is "the un-Cheney". And the National Security Council, since Kissinger a hub of power, has receded under Hadley (which may not be a good thing).

Yes, this is something to be happy about. And yet: "The result is a kinder, gentler face on foreign policy, but also a void in the Bush administration foreign policy apparatus just where it matters most -- the White House."

Which means that we've gone from a realist hawk aligned with neoconservative idealism to a "void". Nothing may indeed be better than something if that something is Cheney and his inner circle, but, like it or not, there are still just under three years left of the Bush presidency. Given Iraq, Iran, Israel and Palestine, Darfur, North Korea, China, India and Pakistan, and every other hotspot around the globe, not to mention the far more nebulous specter of terrorism, just what direction will the de-Cheneyfied White House take? After all, there may be something quite pleasurable in watching Bush fall flat on his face, but: "Being better than the last term is not enough." The challenges facing America are simply too grave to ignore, or to subject to partisanship.

Come to think about, this isn't a sign of any Renaissance and, honestly, I'm not nearly as happy about it as I thought I was. But Rothkopf's piece is still a must-read.

Now let me get back to David Gilmour before the gloom and doom really sets in tonight.

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