Shocking developments in Iran:
Reporting from Washington — Little more than a year after U.S. spy agencies concluded that Iran had halted work on a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration has made it clear that it believes there is no question that Tehran is seeking the bomb.
In his news conference this week, President Obama went so far as to describe Iran’s “development of a nuclear weapon” before correcting himself to refer to its “pursuit” of weapons capability.
Procedurally, this episode is going to reinforce the view of conservatives that after Iraq, at least, the intelligence agencies undermined the Bush administration at each opportunity. If there was “politicization” of intelligence during the Bush years, it cut against Bush policies more than it facilitated them.
Snarkily, we are waiting for all those lefty blogs to deliberate thoughtfully about whether the December 2007 report, which the Bushies nefariously “suppressed” for a year after its development, might have itself been the “intelligence failure.” Perhaps it is important for a president to question the judgments of the bureaucracy.
President Obama — to his credit? — seems to be trying to do something like that. He’s got enough Czars and Special Envoys and Chiefs of This and That to effectively neutralize his own cabinet. As Dick Morris noted earlier this week:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is finding that her job description is dissolving under her feet, leaving her with only a vestige of the power she must have thought she acquired when she signed on to be President Obama’s chief Cabinet officer.
I always wondered why Clinton took the job — the office of SecState tends to take dry, tired men and spit them back out drier and more tired. And can you name a single modern SecState who went on to bigger things after leaving office? Anyway, I’ve gotten off the point here, which is this: Obama is putting together Cabinet-Within-(or is it “Above?”)-the Cabinet, answerable to no one but himself.
The question of course is, “how will the Emperor maintain control without the bureaucracy?”
I dunno. I’m not sure this has ever been tried before on this scale in the White House. It could either lead to a streamlined and effective Administration, or make Reagan’s bickering, leaking cabinet look like the very model of efficiency and loyalty. We’ll see.