Naming high school dropout Bernard Kerik as Secretary of Homeland Security confirms that Bush is creating a cabinet of midgets, people with no personal political base and little management experience. Gov. Tom Ridge was a failure as Homeland Security Secretary, but that was partly because he didn’t have the background to be a mini-Defense secretary; that wasn’t his strong point. Kerik has even fewer credentials for the job.
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson was less of a failure than Ridge. As a man with some ideas who did not like being jerked around, he probably felt frustrated in his job because he couldn’t get any political support for things he thought were important. A hint of that tension with the White House came out in his resignation remarks about the possibility of an attack on the American food supply. It was a strange remark, but it probably was something he had tried unsuccessfully to get the White House to focus on. It may have been a place-holder for Social Security reform, an HHS issue on which Thompson, as an intelligent man, probably disagreed with the White House, but was told not to mention it in public.
Keeping Rumsfeld, who is not a political midget, in the cabinet indicates that he will rule the roost, with no competition from people with stature, like Colin Powell. It may be a portent of the future that Treasury Secretary Snow is on the way out. Snow came in as a midget to replace the outspoken Paul O’Neill, who had served in previous administrations as well as being CEO of Alcoa. Snow was not up to the job. It’s doubtful that the new midgets, including Condi Rice, who is afraid to stand up to Rumsfeld, will do much better than Snow.