Cabinet changes show stability within Bush administration

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2004

The real story about this week's changes in President Bush's Cabinet is the Cabinet's remarkable stability during his first term. Turnover has been minimal when measured against the Cabinet churn of other presidents during a first term.

What the national press is describing as ''shake-up'' is, in effect, expected change among the president's top advisers. The fact that most of his key Cabinet secretaries justice, state, defense, energy, homeland security, education have been on the job for nearly all of the president's four years is a remarkable record that speaks to the president's ability to assemble and hold a loyal team.

Further confirming the strength of the president's team is the fact that Cabinet replacements named thus far have been White House insiders. For example, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice will become Secretary of State to replace Colin Powell. ...

... President Bush plays a team game in which he is the team captain. Stray from the playbook and expect to get the boot. Powell, of course, could not be booted in the way O'Neill was because the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff enjoyed still does enormous credibility and popularity among Americans.

Nonetheless, the Cabinet news this week is not a shake-up. It's a shuffle, of sorts, that merely underscores the value this president puts on loyalty, even at the expense of constructive and sometimes necessary disagreement.

The Forum (Fargo, N.D.)

Nov. 17

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