Is Condi on Her Way Out?
Sunday's WaPo had an article that questioned the competence and long-term viability of Condoleezza Rice, Bush's National Security Council head. After watching each day last week leading to one question after another about what happened with the SOTU, it seems clear that Condi is the latest person to be targetted to take the blame for the disarray resulting from the mis-handling of that affair.
The questions about her role as head of the NSA and how well she performed the duties of this role is certainly an interesting and important story. But, I wonder if there isn't another story that should also be told about Condi's role as favored Bush advisor. What happens to Bush if Condi is pushed overboard?
[First of all, this is a very subjective piece and should not be considered hard news in any sense of the word. It is only my interpretation of what I've seen and read. Nevertheless, I think that there will be a very real problem for Bush if Condi gets pushed out as I suspect that she has been his only real friend in that shark-infested environment that makes up the White House these days.]
From a number of news articles it has been very clear that Condi plays a special part in Bush's team. As far as I can tell, she is the only one who is always and consistently loyal to him no matter how the political winds are blowing. Even the latest WaPo article implies this sense of loyalty.
Still, a person close to Rice said that she has been dismayed by the effect on Bush. "She knows she did badly by him, and he knows that she knows it," this person said.
For example, Woodward reports that when disagreements arise within Bush's war council - as they have, for example, between the CIA and the Defense Department - Bush does not pursue the disagreement to settle it. Rather he turns to his able national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and instructs, "Get this mess straightened out."
Condi has been a confidant and partner with Bush for the past two plus years. She has provided him the daily briefing about the state of the world and she also provides him a partner for exercise. Of all the people in the administration, Condi always supports and protects the president. I think this is because there is a personal friendship between the two of them, and not just a cynical desire to use Bush to sell the latest Republican policy no matter how screwed up it was.
There have been a number of stories about the Bush White House and the internal strife where it is obvious that Condi is the only one not sniping:
The first 11 days of the war have brought back with a vengeance the deep splits that have long existed within the Bush administration and the Republican Party over policy toward Iraq.
Already there is a behind-the-scenes effort by former senior Republican government officials and party leaders to convince President Bush that the advice he has received from Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz -- a powerful triumvirate frequently at odds with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell -- has been wrong and even dangerous to long-term U.S. national interests.
What does happen to Bush when his only 100% backer is cut out of the government? Bush has been relying on Condi to tell him what side is right in disputes and even more, he's been relying on her to make the decisions.
And what is the relationship Bush has with Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Rove, et. al.? One thinks that perhaps they don't expect much from Bush since it is clear he can't or won't apply a consistent and reliable framework for decision making.
Without Karen Hughes, it looks like his friendship with Condi is the premier relationship with someone in the administration who really likes and appreciates Bush. Is it possible that he can find someone else who will trust him without question? Or someone else who will assert that he makes intelligent decisions because he seriously considers the information? What will happen when he doesn't have someone to "take care of that problem?" How will he make a decision then?