Much is being made of the incoming Obama administration’s close ties to people associated with former President Bill Clinton’s administration and with Senator Hillary Clinton — but three’s another close association coming in a bit more under the radar: the incoming administration has close ties to people who were associated with the administration of the first, more moderate Republican President George H. W. Bush.
When the floodgates opened this fall and Republicans began abandoning the Good Ship GOP McCain almost as fast as those who could fit in the lifeboats abandoned the sinking Titanic, a good many of them were people who had were considered to be more moderate Republicans. And now — with far less fanfare than the Clintonistas who are returning to staff Barack Obama’s White House — after years of being anonymous sources in reporters’ articles and books criticizing and warning about policies pursued by the present President George Bush, Bush 41 style Republicans are preparing to return to a position of influence. The Wall Street Journal notes:
Many of the Republicans emerging as potential members of the Obama administration have professional and ideological ties to Brent Scowcroft, a former national-security adviser turned public critic of the Bush White House.
Mr. Scowcroft spoke by phone with President-elect Barack Obama last week, the latest in a months-long series of conversations between the two men about defense and foreign-policy issues, according to people familiar with the discussions.
The relationship between the president-elect and the Republican heavyweight suggests that Mr. Scowcroft’s views, which place a premium on an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, might hold sway in the Obama White House.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was deputy national-security adviser under Mr. Scowcroft in the George H.W. Bush administration, is almost certain to be retained by Mr. Obama, according to aides to the president-elect. Richard Haass, a Scowcroft protégé and former State Department official, could be tapped for a senior National Security Council, State Department or intelligence position. Mr. Haass currently runs the Council on Foreign Relations.
Other prominent Republicans with close ties to Mr. Obama — including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who endorsed the Democrat in the final days of the campaign, and Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — share Mr. Scowcroft’s philosophy.
“I think most of my close associates have a generally similar view,” Mr. Scowcroft said in an interview. “What’s the old story about birds of a feather?”
And lest you forget an important news story that had involved Scowcroft:
Mr. Scowcroft’s re-emergence caps a tumultuous few years for the 83-year-old former Air Force general. In the run-up to the Iraq war, Mr. Scowcroft wrote an opinion column in The Wall Street Journal arguing against an invasion and warning that it would “seriously jeopardize, if not destroy” the Bush administration’s war on terrorism. In speeches and interviews, he regularly criticized both the decision to invade Iraq and the Bush team’s handling of the war effort.
The White House responded by removing Mr. Scowcroft from his position as chairman of a foreign intelligence advisory board. Defenders of the Bush policy say the president has planted the seeds of democracy in the Middle East and preserved strong ties with Israel, which had a tense relationship with the elder President Bush when Mr. Scowcroft was national-security adviser.
Mr. Scowcroft, who stayed neutral in this year’s presidential campaign, is a prominent advocate of a “realist” approach to foreign policy that favors deal-making over the ideological commitments the second Bush administration was known for.
“He said before the war that this is a war of choice that we shouldn’t be engaged in. I think that has resonated with Obama,” said Amy Zegart, a public-policy professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who served as an adviser on national-security matters to Mr. Bush’s 2000 campaign.
Scowcroft’s column had set analysts buzzing with speculation that his views and others REALLY represented how Bush 41 felt about his son Bush 43. The reason: Scowcroft had a long, distinguished career serving a host of Republican presidents including Bush 41. Books and articles have since portrayed Bush 43 as in a sense the anti-Bush 41 — taking a path and having a managerial style that his Dad would never have taken because Bush 41 was more cautious, conciliatory and believed in both domestic and international coalition building.
So when Obama takes office in a sense it’ll be more of a “fusion” administration: the Obama camp in alliance with the Clinton camp in alliance with some figures linked to the Bush 41 camp (and most likely former Bush 41 camp member Robert Gates serving in an Obama administration).
And who will be odd man out — in more ways than one?