This is baffling. John Negroponte will leave his Director of National Intelligence position to become deputy secretary of state. The NYT reports on paper the DNI out ranks Dep Sec of State so it appears to be a down ward shift. Why would Negroponte want to do this? I don’t buy the ‘he wants to return to his roots’ speculation by officials in Washington. (Sounds as corny as the ‘wants to spend time with family’ cover for getting pushed out of a job) It would also seem the DNI post is more important and thus ought to be the priority.
The Dep Sec of State position has been unfilled for 6 months since Robert Zoellick quit in June. The NYT reports that Condi “has had great difficulty” finding a replacement with several people having “turned down the post” and that she has been pushing to get Negroponte.
NYT also points out that the move will be a blow to the intelligence community that has “seen little continuity” since Tenant. They also report that administration officials wouldn’t say if Bush was dissatisfied with Negroponte.
And then, quite importantly, there is this…
Mr. Bush had at first been reluctant to set up the intelligence post, but ultimately bowed to Congressional pressure and for the first time made the office a cabinet-level position. (NYT article)
So maybe Bush doesn’t like Negroponte. And Condi is pestering him for John. (And Condi needs some propping up–face it he’d leave Iraq before he’d leave her and we know that ain’t happening) And the DNI post was not Bush’s choice. So is he all that invested in it? (answer: he resents it)
This move which seems so baffling and stupid actually may be vintage Bush. He can make Condi happy. (and possibly make her look better) He can backhand Congress for foisting the DNI on him and thus not respectin The Decider. And what’s a little upheaval to the intelligence community (leaky bastards anyway) when he can get all that.
I think the first avenue of pursuit when trying to understand Bush is to think of; pay off to ego and pay back to others (and Condi, always Condi). The last thing to do would be to think in terms of what is best for the country.
Anyway those are my initial thoughts. Yours?
UPDATE:Booman is baffled too and trying to figure it out. He has 2 interesting possible scenarios while looking deeper into the politics than I have done here. Regarding his first scenario I can see Negroponte running the show and Condi being a figurehead (about what I was saying) but I just don’t see her stepping down. The second scenario revolves around the replacement for DNI which I hadn’t examined and it is interesting…”This is another part of a Poppy Bush coup”…I need to think on that one
UPDATE: one last thought.WSJ reported in November of talk that Rice is reaching out to Negroponte and suggestions of a promise he’d get the top job should she decide to leave.
I do think Rice is failing and perhaps this is a sort of State Dept “surge”…reinforce her in one last effort to save her. It’s still hard to see her leaving though.