Bush Will Not Seek Mass Resignations
President Bush will not ask his appointees for the mass resignation letters that sometimes have been requested with a change of term but instead wants the aides to keep doing their jobs unless they are told otherwise, White House officials said yesterday. White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. and the director of presidential personnel, Dina Powell, held a conference call on Thursday with agency heads and their White House liaisons and assured them that although all appointees serve at the pleasure of the president, there will be no universal request for resignations.
The decision reflects both Bush’s view that his government is working well, and his determination to move aggressively to pass ambitious legislation before he starts being viewed as a lame duck, officials said. A White House official said the reprieve also indicative of the premium Bush puts on consistency as part of his management style.
Dan Bartlett, White House communications director, said the phone call — which lasted 30 to 45 minutes, including a question-and-answer period — was designed to “allay some concerns or anxieties that are natural during this time frame.” “It’s not going to be the Nixon model,” Bartlett said, “where everybody submits a resignation and then waits to see if they’re rehired. There’s a presumption that a lot of people did their job well, because we would not be in the position of reelection if they hadn’t.”
Although Bush plans no administration-wide housecleaning, not everyone who wants to stay will be able to. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow was subtly given the idea that he would not be staying for all four years but could take all the time he wanted to leave, administration officials said. Snow may help kick off Bush’s proposal to overhaul the tax code and then return home to Richmond, officials said.
Attorney General John D. Ashcroft is also expected to leave. So are Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.
Such high-profile changes could mean turnover that goes well down into a particular department’s chain of command, but Card is insisting that Cabinet members stagger their departures to minimize disruption.
This strikes me as a reasonable approach, especially in a wartime environment. The lure of bigger money in the private sector, burnout, and other factors will create change on its own. If the president doesn’t think a cabinet secretary’s performance is up to snuff, he should relieve him regardless of a term switch; conversely, if he’s happy and the official is willing to stay on, change for it’s own sake is illogical.