Monday, June 12, 2006

Bush Makes Contact with Cabinet

President Bush is holding conference to decide what to do about Iraq, and all his advisors are invited. In the wake of recent successes in the war ravaged country Bush has planned two days of meetings at Camp David to decide which way to proceed next. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman was as surprised as anyone to find an invitation to the conference.

“’Stunned’ is the word I would use,” he commented. “At first I thought some of Rumsfeld’s mail had fallen into my box. But no, the form letter had my name stamped across the top of the page! I can’t believe it! I’m happy to go to the meeting to help try to fix Iraq. It’s everyone’s problem. Besides, it’ll be nice to meet Condoleezza Rice.”

Other inconsequential cabinet members echoed similar thoughts. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson was also invited. “I’ve never been invited to a cabinet meeting,” Jackson admitted, “But I’m going to make the most of it. I’ll make sure to grab a souvenir or get an autograph.”

Bush’s presidency has been marked by a high turnover in cabinet members—mostly attributed to the President’s resistance to accept advice from anyone outside his inner circle.

“It kind of works like this,” one Washington insider informed me, “The president has his ‘inner cabinet’ and then there is the rest of the cabinet. The ‘inner cabinet’ consists of Rumsfeld, Rice, and Cheney. The rest of the cabinet members just grease the wheels at this point. And if anyone needs to get thrown under the treads, who do you think gets tapped?”

Bush’s White House has been notoriously hard to crack, not only for those on the outside, but for those on the inside as well. A famous casualty was former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

“We all know about Secretary Powell. Sadly, he just wasn’t a political animal,” one pundit commented. “Sure, he had the wisdom and the foresight, but he just didn’t know how to play the game. Condi Rice? She knows how to play the game and now she has his job.”

In the past the only way for cabinet members to vault themselves into the inner circle was to initiate some kind of disaster. No one has risen farther than Condoleezza Rice who has gone from being a professor to Secretary of State in a few short years. How did she do it? In 2001, as Bush’s National Security Advisor, she missed all signs of the impending attack on 9/11. After that she in no way quelled the President’s march to war, which was ultimately based on faulty intelligence findings.

“Technically, the National Security Advisor is supposed to inform the president of national security matters,” one intelligence expert noted. “I would say without a doubt a complex and coordinated terrorist attack involving hijacked airliners qualifies as a national security issue. I would also point out that she was the one claiming Iraq posed an imminent national security issue to our country.”

Rice’s woeful job performance was easily overlooked because of her affability and the vague nature of the position she held. To many it wasn’t exactly clear what Mrs. Rice’s duties were, if any. She was tapped to be Secretary of State after Bush's re-election.

Another example of rising to promenence amid self-made disasters is Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. “Who, except Cheney, has more power than Rumsfeld?” One policy expert pointed out. “And think about it: the man sent in troops to Iraq, with little exit strategy, and almost zero body armor. And he’s probably one of the top ten most powerful people in the world right now. He tried to resign, and Bush wouldn’t allow it! That’s power and job security.”

Many experts felt that Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff was making a similar power play by shocasing how terribly prepard his Department of Homeland Security was during hurricane Katrina. FEMA was found to be totally ill prepared and led by a former horse show administrator. Chertoff guided the bloated department to utter failure during the nation’s largest natural disaster. Since then he has become a household name.

The recent request that all cabinet members attend the Camp David meetings has sent shockwaves through the Beltway. Many feel it may signal a move to a more inclusive executive policy. Perhaps it is a move to better involve more of our government’s top minds to solve problems; a more ‘boots on the ground’ approach to future decisions. The announcement that Bush was going to invite and meet all of his cabinet members was made during a Saturday morning press conference.

"The president has recently uncovered an entire 'cabinet' of highly trained and well-educated government policy experts," said press secretary Tony Snow. "He is very excited about the opportunity this presents. He is ready to bring them all to bear on this problem of Iraq and, possibly, other issues of national interest. "

Snow went on to say that the administration is going to test out the disparate cabinet members during a 30 day trial period to see how effective they are. "So far they have done very little to inform us that they even exist," Snow joked. "If they prove just as inconsequential in meetings we'll just send them back to their dingy, windowless offices in the bottom of the White House."

Will the various fringe members of Bush's newly discovered cabinet make any difference? Time will tell. But, in the words of one cabinet member, “I’m just happy to get out of my basement office for a few days. I feel like Cinderella finally going to the ball. What shoes should I wear?”

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