Rumor is swirling around the choices George W. Bush may be making for his second-term cabinet. Much buzz focuses on whether Dick Cheney will be dropped from the Bush ticket, with two names rising above the chatter: Senator John McCain and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. She would then become the first woman ever to serve in this office and be thrust forward as a dramatic asset against Democratic challenger John Kerry and his running mate. The rumors of Cheney’s impending exit are energized by the overly lavish praise Bush and his Republican friends are heaping on him. But the Vice President does not look like bowing out meekly. He is traveling extensively on the money-raising trail on behalf of the Bush campaign. Liz Cheney has quit the State Department to manage her father’s re-election.
Other hot subjects of speculation are the next secretary of state and national security adviser. If Rice does not run as VP, she is front-runner to replace retiring Colin Powell, although her friends insist she is good and tired of politics after four years without a life of her own. Her decision could tilt the entire Bush edifice one way or another. She is clearly on her way up, leaving her present job up for grabs. Candidates in line are Robert Blackwill, already an insider as the National Security Council’s chief of special operations – unless Bush prefers to move him sideways to take over from Paul Bremer in Baghdad – and deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz. According to some of the tittle-tattle, the president may want to counter-balance Powell’s exit by dropping defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. That would leave yet another empty seat.
Bremer is believed to have cherished a secret hope to capitalize on his success in Iraq and qualify for secretary of state in the post-election Bush team, an ambition that will be disappointed.