Thursday, November 18, 2004

CNN: Condi News Network?

On Tuesday, I was home for lunch and caught part of an interview on CNN's "Live From...." Kyra Phillips was talking to former defense secretary William Cohen about Condoleeza Rice's appointment as secretary of state (emphasis added):
PHILLIPS: Well, there's no doubt that Condoleezza Rice has a strong background. Now you've got a national security adviser becoming the secretary of state. Do you think that's dangerous, though? Do you think that by her moving from that position to secretary of state, that it sort of makes the State Department a bit of an arm of the West Wing, a little too close for comfort?

COHEN: Well, frankly, I think you can always expect there to be some disagreement between the State Department and other agencies. That's been the nature of the system. And there's a positive aspect to that.

But ultimately, it's the president of the United States who sets the foreign policy. It's the secretary of state who articulates that foreign policy to the American people and also the world leaders. But it's the president of the United States who's in charge. And so to the extent that Secretary Rice -- soon to be Secretary Rice carries out the president's policy, then that's not being seen as being some kind of an enemy of the State Department. It's -- really the State Department is there to effectively carry out the policies of the president of the United States, whoever that may be. So I don't see that as a handicap, but rather, actually, as a benefit under these circumstances.
Cohen gives a decent answer here, but I found Phillips' question obnoxious. It's "dangerous" and "too close for comfort" to have Dr. Rice as secretary of state because she'd be an "arm of the West Wing?" That's ridiculous. As Cohen stated, the SecState is the articulator of the President's foreign policy. They should be close and sure they may disagree in some of ther discussions, but when they decide to communicate that policy it kinda helps if they are on the same page. I think Phillips and others in the media are disappointed because they've made such an issue of the "split" between Powell whom they saw as a maverick independent and Rumsfeld's "neocons" who they hate and who Bush supposedly favors. So, since they see Dr. Rice in the latter group, it's a little too close for their own comfort.

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