Richard Wolffe and John Barry speculate on a reshuffling of the national security team if President Bush is re-elected.

Burned out by two wars and drained by ideological disputes, President George W. Bush’s national-security team is dreaming of a kinder, gentler life outside government. Condoleezza Rice, the national-security adviser, talks of serving “dog years” in the White House. A senior official says, “Every year feels like seven because there’s been too much to do.” In public, team members say they’re too busy to think about their future; in private, the jockeying for potential positions is well underway.

RICE ONCE seemed a surefire bet to move to the State Department. But associates now insist she has no interest in State’s sprawling diplomatic bureaucracy and is keen to step out of the limelight after a grueling five years as Bush’s chief foreign-policy adviser (including more than a year on the 2000 campaign). Possible replacements include Robert Blackwill, Rice’s strategic adviser, and Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy Defense secretary, who were both advisers on Bush’s 2000 campaign. Among the outsiders is John Bolton, the hawkish under secretary of State, who is close to Vice President Dick Cheney.

At State, the working assumption among Colin Powell’s aides has long been that the secretary would not serve in a second Bush term. Powell’s friends say that he has accomplished his mission of public service to a president who came to power with little foreign-policy experience. Paul (Jerry) Bremer, the chief civilian administrator of Iraq, is the current front runner for Powell’s job. Last week Bremer and Bush bonded during a workout in the White House gym, where they had extensive discussions about Iraq’s future.

Pentagon officials want a successor who will cement Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s changes. *** Candidates to fill Rummy’s shoes: James Roche, the current Air Force secretary, and Stephen Hadley, Rice’s deputy at the White House, who served at the Pentagon under Cheney in the last Bush administration. Both would be calming voices. Inside the White House, Hadley is known for his adult supervision. “We call him Dad because father knows best,? says one co-worker.

Any of these would be a step down from the Powell-Rumsfeld-Rice lineup.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.