January 04, 2007

Lateral or Downward? The Negroponte Shuffle

John Negroponte is stepping down from his Cabinet-level position as Director of National Intelligence to become the #2 man in the State Department, backing Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. What does it all mean? I think Captain Ed has a better feel for this story than most, and even that seems uncertain:

The position carries a high profile and arguably has more influence on policy formulation, but it still represents a step down and a move out of the Oval Office inner circle. The change reflects a possible loss of confidence in Negroponte, especially given his proximity to the President and the obvious opportunity to influence his decisions on policy on a whole range of issues.

Congress appears taken aback by the change. Susan Collins, a Republican who pushed hard for the 9/11 Commission recommendations that created the DNI post, expressed her disappointment at Negroponte's resignation. Jane Harman, who would have been the new House Intel chair had Nancy Pelosi not fumbled the assignment after the election, also objected, making the criticism bipartisan.

With the available information, it looks like Negroponte got shuffled downward as part of the review finishing up on Iraq and the war on terror. The quality of intelligence coming from Iraq has come under some fire over the last couple of years, and eventually that responsibility rests with Negroponte. Alternatively, it could be that Negroponte's experience in Iraq was necessary for Rice to push through Bush's new strategies for Iraq and the Middle East. Negroponte was the first American emissary to Iraq, and with the resignation of Zalmay Khalilzad, Bush may have wanted the most experienced hands focusing directly on Iraq.

It's a puzzlement, without a doubt. I don't recall any recent moves where a Cabinet officer resigned to take a deputy post for another Cabinet officer. is all over the NY Times version, and while other bloggers (mostly on the left) seem to be commenting on it, they don't seem to have anything solid to go on either. At this point, it all seems to be mostly blind speculation... so why not add to it?

Liberal Booman Tribune floats a couple of theories, including the theory that that Negroponte is being primed to take over for an incompetent Rice (hey, this is his theory, not mine), who will resign for health reasons after an appropriate amount of time, at which point Negroponte will be elevated to Secretary of State. This is not outside the realm of possibility; as far as politics goes, crazier things have happened. But if we're going to go for wild speculation, shouldn't we go "whole hog?"

So here is my completely groundless theory:

Negroponte is moving in to be in a position to take over for Rice, but not because Rice is going out of office, but up. Vice President Dick Cheney will resign due to much more plausible health problems (the poor guy has worn-out defibrillators, hasn't he?), and Dr. Rice will step in as our first female Vice President sometime during the summer or early fall of 2007. She will then be "pushed" into running as the Republican contender against Hillary, setting up our first guaranteed female president as a result of the 2008 elections. At this point, Pat Robertson will quote some obscure translation of the Book of Revelations and declare this is proof of the End of Days, at which point we all laugh at him.


Of course, that's just my theory. I could be wrong.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at January 4, 2007 09:49 AM | TrackBack

Your "whole hog" "wild speculation" is precisely the theory I came up with. Except the part about Pat Robertson.

Posted by: MikeM at January 4, 2007 10:27 AM

Yeah, but laughing at Pat Robertson's 'predictions' is a given.

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at January 4, 2007 11:02 AM

Revelation. Singular. As in "The Book of Revelation". AKA "The Revelation of John", or "The Revelation of St. John the Devine".

Posted by: Crusty at January 4, 2007 11:19 AM

OK, I'm keeping my "RICE08" license plate.

Posted by: Dr. T at January 4, 2007 11:33 AM

Interesting -- I thought the exact same thing when I heard the story on the radio in the car this morning (minus the Pat Robertson stuff).

So it MUST be true!

Posted by: jblog at January 4, 2007 11:35 AM

Cool. Condi is kryptonite to Hillary's "first woman Pres" appeal, as well as to Obama's "first black Pres" appeal.

Hmm - is Ms. Rice Jewish?

Posted by: Tom Maguire at January 4, 2007 11:36 AM

I agree with your analysis, but I think your last line is in error.

Shouldn't it be "at which point we will continue to laugh at him, as we have for years?"

Posted by: Richard R at January 4, 2007 11:46 AM

Theory -- moving to root out Daniel Perle's "opposition within the administration, and the disloyalty" at State. See Vanity Fair article at

Negroponte knows who they are . . . .

Posted by: Gary at January 4, 2007 11:49 AM

Barring changes in the public's perception of the war in Iraq, any candidate put forward as a successor to President Bush by this administration will likely be seen as damaged goods. Even if the rather convoluted plot you suggest were to unfold, Condoleezza Rice will not be a viable candidate for President in 2008, probably ever. This has nothing to do with her gender or her race, but everything to do with her being a diplomat. In the modern era, the position of Secretary of State has never proved to be a good place from which to launch a campaign for the presidency.

Just a few thoughts.

Mark Daniels

Posted by: Mark Daniels at January 4, 2007 11:54 AM

I agree with Gary about Negroponte moving to State to help root out Richard Perle's "opposition within the administration, and the disloyalty" at State. And who better to do it than a spy chief.

Anyway, that's what occurred to me.

Daniel Pearl, of course, was killed in Pakistan by Jihadis.

Posted by: Alcibiades at January 4, 2007 11:58 AM

Best theory I've heard yet. Excerpted and linked.

Posted by: Bill Faith at January 4, 2007 11:58 AM

I like Rice 2008, too! Have since 2004. And thought Rice as VP in 2007 was a good idea.

For Tom ... Rice - Lieberman? (Nah.)
Rice - Romney or Guiliani (not McCain).

But Condi doesn't want to have to run, and she's NOT married; I don't really think she will be drafted for the #1 slot.

McCain - Rice prolly wins against Clinton - Barak and even Barak - x.

Posted by: Tom Grey at January 4, 2007 11:59 AM

Alcibiades, thanks.

Right -- "Richard" Perle, not "Daniel"

Posted by: Gary at January 4, 2007 12:03 PM

Brilliant! I hope you're right.

Posted by: Jim O'Sullivan at January 4, 2007 12:04 PM

I think Booman has nailed it. And if she wants to run she needs to leave the Admin, not lock herself in til the bitter end. Little chance any Bushie can win the nomination, for Rice this is not the path. Hariet Meyers just resigned, maybe she is running?

Posted by: abe at January 4, 2007 12:07 PM

Rice won't run for Prez because she couldn't win. Sorry. Plus, why would we want her to? By any reasonable measure, she's been a complete dud as Secretary of State. I have no confidence that she'd be an effective President.

Having said that, she would be a very good V.P., and it's reasonable to think that a desperate Bush--looking to change the story line in 2007 away from an inevitable Iraq withdrawal and withering Democratic investigations--will tap Condi to be his Veep. The hearings she'd go through before the House and Senate would be great theater and force the Democrats to choose between making the kind of history they love (first black! first woman!) and their irrational Bush hatred.

Plus, since the Dems are more than likely to particularly go after Cheney and Halliburton, having him gracefully exit now (just like Rumsfeld did) would be smart politics.

Even so, Bush hasn't acted smart since 2004. So who knows if he'll do the right thing?

Posted by: DJ at January 4, 2007 12:20 PM

".....why would we want her to? By any reasonable measure, she's been a complete dud as Secretary of State. I have no confidence that she'd be an effective President."

Couldn't agree more.

Posted by: fred at January 4, 2007 12:37 PM

Things I agree with, things I don't.

President Bush isn't the one "who hasn't done anything right" (or wrong) in terms of these types of decisions. He isn't pulling the strings here, the party is. To think otherwise, is naive.

Secondly, Condi has done well in many regards, except for Israel which she has bungled.

However, the public has a short memory and there will be no backlash two years from now against her...that is, any more than would be expected from the usual leftist cesspool...against any non-leftist.

Hillary/Lieberman would be a very tough ticket...but, I think the leftists will push through someone a bit further toward the nutjob portion of the spectrum.

Giuliani Rice sounds like the risotto special at Tutti Mare, and Rice McCain comes in a paper bag with a clown's face on it and sesame seed bun. Romney Rice does have an alliterative and palateable allure to it.

Centrist, likeable, articulate, calm, reflective, educated....soothing.

Hillary and Lefty du Jour will galvanize the right,and scare the center. Start spouting national nanny care for hangnails and tax increases for special interests...and it will be another close one...with Romney Rice taking it with surprising ease.

Hillary/Lieberman would go down to the wire with Romney Rice. McCain/Lieberman as a third party independent tandem would split BOTH tickets, but would hurt the Republicans more.

Romney Giuliani has a chance...but Romney Rice wins. Hillary/Lieberman wins, Hillary and Lefty du Jour does not.

Posted by: cfbleachers at January 4, 2007 12:39 PM

Jane Harman for DNI!

That would have two positive effects: 1. signal the bipartisan-izing of the GWOT; and 2. poke a blunt stick in Speaker Pelosi's eye.

wonder if she'd go for it if asked.

Posted by: vic at January 4, 2007 12:46 PM

Why on Earth does Bush care about 2008? He's focused--as he must be--on saving his policy in Iraq and stopping the Dems from destroying his Administration with subpoenas. To be sure, Bush wants to be succeeded by a Republican who supports his policies. But surely he knows that the best way for that to happen is for him to have a reasonably successful final two years. Which, I submit, naming Rice as V.P. would help promote.

Posted by: DJ at January 4, 2007 12:47 PM

Daniel "Pearl", not "Perle".

Posted by: Neal at January 4, 2007 12:54 PM

Bush needs Negroponte at State to handle the anxiety and anger of Iran's neighbors when we invade it in March or April.

I think John Bolton may work very well as DNI. The constant turf wars between the various intel agencies need a firm hand to cut the crap and work together, not a diplomat.

Posted by: Korla Pundit at January 4, 2007 01:03 PM

I sincerely doubt that Negroponte is being groomed for anything. This looks clearly like a demotion. Reports are that he spends several hours *every day* at a club getting massages and saunabaths....while people from both sides of the aisle are criticising both the intelligence coming from Iraq and the speed with which the various intelligence agencies are being merged.

That's not a good way to ingratiate yourself with a new Democratic majority that would need to confirm you for SecState or any other cabinet appointment.

Why he would want to take a lower-level government job -- when he could make some bucks in the private sector is beyond me. But I imagine this was either offered as a consolation prize -- or demanded by him.

Posted by: IM Snooping at January 4, 2007 01:18 PM

For what it's worth, I have no reason to doubt Time Magazine's reporting that Negorponte didn't like the DNI job, wanted to rejoin the diplomatic corps, has coveted the #2 DOS position for months, and that, importantly, Condi Rice wants to focus her time and attention on the Israel-Palestinian quagmire and needs an Iraq expert (which Negroponte surely is) to take over that portfolio in the Department. Maybe Negroponte will be the White House's 2007 point person that's been long predicted by David Brooks and others.

One more thing: Time also includes a quote from a "high ranking State Department official" who speculates that, should Rice step down before the end of Bush's term, it'll be important to have an easily confirmable Deputy in place. Rice stepping down? Hmmm. Maybe some grist for CY's theory.

Posted by: DJ at January 4, 2007 01:26 PM

Rightly or wrongly, Rice is perceived as having bungled the Israel-Hezbollah war last Summer. She is viewed favorably by no one on the Left, and by relatively few on the Right. She really doesn't have the weight of positive experience to be able to move forward in a campaign.

I favor the 'rooting out the moles' theory myself.

Posted by: NukemHill at January 4, 2007 01:34 PM

As to 2008.

I think the obvious, but overlooked, ticket for the left is Clinton/Clinton. There's no clause preventing a former President from serving as a Vice-President, is there?


As to an pleasing (sounding) ticket for the other party, how about Rice/Bol (as in Mnute Bol the former NBA star)?

Actually, I think I'd like Rice/Thompson (Fred) for '08.

Posted by: Chris at January 4, 2007 01:45 PM

It's Andy Devine and St. John the Divine.

Posted by: radar at January 4, 2007 01:48 PM

Chris wrote:


Twelve Ammendment:

" .... But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States."

Posted by: Jack at January 4, 2007 01:55 PM

My very first thought was "They're going to do a Janet Reno". The Dems are all hot and heavy to get into positions that they're going to use to investigate every single thing that happened, is happening or that might be about to happen. That include Negroponte's work. If they start in on him, the White House is going to turn around and say that he can't be talked to because he's part of the administration, in the same way Reno justified it during Clinton's rental of the White House.

I like your theory a lot better though.

Posted by: Deano at January 4, 2007 01:58 PM

Ah, well. Thanks for the clarification, Jack.

For everyone else, who is likely to replace Mr. Negroponte at DNI, or does it stay vacant and Porter Goss becomes the DNI in all but name?

Posted by: Chris at January 4, 2007 02:04 PM

I think Rice/Nighthorse-Campbell '08 is a nice ticket. For one, the name "Nighthorse" is about as cool as anything one could imagine. And for another, the ticket would then be "Uncle Ben 'n Rice"!!!

Posted by: vic at January 4, 2007 02:05 PM

No, Jack, it's not that simple. The 22nd Amendment says that "No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once."

The drafters did not say that a person who was elected twice is ineligible for the Office. It says that no person shall be ELECTED to the Office MORE than twice. So, arguably, Bill Clinton could serve as Vice President because that wouldn't constitute an election to the Office of the Presidency.

Posted by: DJ at January 4, 2007 02:06 PM

ConYank - GREAT theory... I hope you are right, too!

DJ/Chris/Jack -- I have to weigh in on the side of Jack on this one. We cannot have a former two-term President become President again based on the two-term limit.

And no one can be qualified (Constitutionally) for Vice President if they fail the Constitutional test for President.

No Clinton/Clinton ticket is allowed. Praise Allah!

Posted by: Bruce (GayPatriot) at January 4, 2007 02:19 PM

C'mon, guys, go all the way with the Condi speculation. She becomes VP when Dick Cheney resigns for health reasons. Then, either before or after the 2008 election (and ESPECIALLY if Hillary wins), W resigns to make Condi the first woman President and the first black President of the U.S. Then everyone can chuckle while MSM newsreaders for all eternity have to refer to Ms. Clinton as the "first woman elected President".

Posted by: Jack at January 4, 2007 02:35 PM

If you want to understand why he's made this move, keep an eye on who sits in the seat at the United Nations Security Council.

With Bolton out and Pelosi/Reid ready to stop any and all Bush appointments, Negroponte as a #2 of State can sit in on sessions. And he's a known and trusted quantity.

Posted by: Laurence Simon at January 4, 2007 02:42 PM

One of the things that has to be driving Republicans nuts is the plain vanilla of the '08 field. Movement People hate McCain because they figure that he's unstable and a backstabber. Giuliani they've got pegged as a RINO and Mitt turns out to have disowned Reagan back in 1994. Rudy has the longest term strength nationally.

Makes me wonder what Karlito is up to?

And no, we're not invading Iran anytime soon. Purple Avenger is right, but I bet the Iranians do something stupid.

As to Rice herself, she remains popular in the country, which is something liberals continue not to get. She could get promoted after a confirmation hearing in which she would swear up and down that she was returning to Stanford or taking an NFL head coaching job in 2009. That's the only way the D's will give her the job, but paradoxically, it will increase her popularity (the Jerry Ford effect).

The contrast with the hyperambitious, out-for-herself Hillary will be stark.

This leads me to another scenario for '08, but I won't mention it.

Posted by: section9 at January 4, 2007 02:43 PM

D.J.'s right.

Clinton (Bill) is eligible to serve as Vice-President.

Clinton (Bill) would be eligible to serve as President if something happened to Clinton (Hillary). He just wouldn't be able to run for another term as President if something happened to Clinton (Hillary).

I don't think Clinton (Hillary) would be foolish enough to agree to that ticket - who wants to spend every waking minute worrying about whether the Secret Service can protect you against your spouse?

Posted by: BD at January 4, 2007 03:32 PM


Your parsing of words between the 12th and 22nd Amendments is impressive (Clintonian, even), but if you can't be elected President (under the 22nd Amendment) I think that makes you inelligible to be President (under the 12th Amendment).

Plus, I would bet most of the interns in a Hillary Clinton White House would be male, and as a result, I doubt Bill would have the same desire to put in the late hours under those circumstances.

Posted by: Gene H at January 4, 2007 03:51 PM

Rice has stated several times that she is not interested in running for president primarily because she has never before run for any elected office.

Posted by: luagha at January 4, 2007 05:31 PM

My conspriacy theory: The intelligence servies have way to much power. The State Dept and CIA were in open war with the President; leaking information, Pilar giving talks, the Plame frame up. To stem this Porter Goss and Negroponte were put in place,plus the DOD had it's own private intelligence Acy--but now that's all gone, now all intel is controlled by old CIA hands or Clinton Adm. people. I think we've lost a war.

Posted by: Bob at January 4, 2007 06:02 PM

The trouble with your whole hog theory is that when a VP resigns Congress appoints the next one. That's how Ford got to be vp when Spiro resigned.

Posted by: William M Goetsch at January 4, 2007 09:14 PM

Your memory fails you, Goetsch. Section 2 of the 25th Amendment says that "Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress." Nixon nominated Ford, and the Congress confirmed him.

Does this make my parsing of the 22nd Amendment right?

Posted by: DJ at January 5, 2007 12:18 AM

DJ - I feel like you are trying to drive a Mack truck through a mouse hole, but if the situation ever arises, how the courts rule will be interesting. Regardless, I think the last person Hillary wants to have as a running mate is Bill Clinton.

Posted by: Jack at January 5, 2007 02:29 AM

Bob @ 6:02,
I think your theory has some meat on its bones, something for which I'm sad, though. The Berger documents non-scandal is evidence of how the bureaucratic establishment views the world; not a good thing in times of war or "reform".

Posted by: vic at January 5, 2007 11:09 AM