Sunday, March 06, 2005

How Cheney runs the world.

Daniel Drezner calls attention to an essay in Foreign Policy by David Rothkopf about the foreign policy divisions within the Bush Administration, and in particular to the institutional clout that Vice President Cheney exercises in setting policy. This puts meat on the bones of a view I've had for a while that Cheney has extraordinary clout because off his mastery at determining how policy is presented to the President. Cheney is a consumate insider, but Rothkopf explains that he has institutional advantages, too -- the Vice President's national security staff is larger than that of any of his predecessors. Put this all together, and you get this:
Richard Haass, who served in the administrations of both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and is currently president of the Council on Foreign Relations, recalls that Cheney had “three bites at the apple. He has his staff at every meeting. He would then come to principals’ meetings. And then he’d have his one-on-ones with the president. And given the views that came out of the vice president’s office, it introduced a certain bias to the system…. As a result, I felt that at just about every meeting, the State Department began behind two and a half to one.”
This is very much the same picture that emerged on the domestic side from Ron Suskind's book about Paul O'Neill's stint as Treasury Secretary, The Price Of Loyalty.

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