Ed Driscoll

SAVED BY ILLNESS: Norman Mineta

SAVED BY ILLNESS: Norman Mineta is the Bush cabinet member that Bush fans love to hate. And he was almost fired this fall, until illness struck. Robert Novak writes:

According to high-level administration sources, Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta was to follow former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill as the second Cabinet member to be fired by President Bush until illness landed him in Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Mineta, a 71-year-old former congressman from California, is the only Democrat in Bush’s Cabinet. He was saved from dismissal when a staph infection followed surgery last August to relieve persistent back pain, hospitalizing him for several weeks. He was operated on again Jan. 24, and remains at Walter Reed at this writing.

Although Transportation officials say Mineta runs the department from his hospital bed, the work is really being done by Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson (a protege and former aide of White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card).

I’m sorry to see him ailing, but after his bungling of airport security post-9/11, I won’t be sad to see him step down.