Washington Prowler

National Treasures

Joe Lieberman courted anew. Alan Greenspan’s rising stock. The SEC’s missing Republican. Pelosi’s Jim Wright.

By 12.19.04

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OLD JOE
Sen. Joe Lieberman has already turned down two jobs offered by President Bush, so why not go for a trifecta?

Lieberman again tops a list of folks being considered for head of the new national intelligence directorate, a job that Lieberman might actually have to seriously consider. He smartly turned down the Homeland Security chief job, and the U.N. ambassadorship just wasn't big enough for him, even if he would have been given an opportunity to work on the Middle East peace process a bit.

But Lieberman did take on a large role in shaping the national intelligence legislation, and has a lot of backers on Capitol Hill urging him to take the job if it is offered.

More important to Republicans, Lieberman's Senate seat would be filled by a Republican.

Lieberman is one of a handful of Democrats whom the White House (read: Karl Rove) has targeted for Administration jobs that could push the GOP majority toward the magic number of 60. Thus far, Rove has struck out.

TREASURY CHAIRMAN
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was offered the Treasury Secretary job on a Monday about three weeks ago during a private 12.30 meeting with President Bush. Greenspan wasn't interested, but the offer by the President did get the two talking about lame duck politics, retirement, and succession plans. As with the Treasury job, the pickings for Republicans are slim right now regarding a successor to Greenspan when he steps down as Fed chairman in early 2006. Greenspan has not put forward any names he would consider strong candidates.

Greenspan was not that odd a reach for an administration that was struggling to find the right voice and stature for a Treasury job that has suffered from comparisons with the Clinton-era's Robert Rubin.

"We would not have been able to control him, and it would have been a wild ride," says a White House insider. "But the goodwill and the initial jumpstart we would have gotten would probably have been worth the hassles down the road. The President knows we have to cut the deficit -- hearing Greenspan carp on that would not have been that painful an experience."

TROUBLE AT SEC
Folks on Wall Street who were quietly supportive -- if not wowed --by the decision to keep Treasury Secretary John Snow on board are clamoring for another head to be lopped off by the Bush administration: that of Securities and Exchange Commission chairman William Donaldson. Donaldson was thought to be a solid pick for the SEC job four years ago, given his background: An old friend of President Bush's father and family, he previously served as Chairman and CEO of the investment banking firm Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, which he co-founded. He also served as chairman of the New York Stock Exchange and president of Aetna.

But Donaldson instead has appeared to make annoying Wall Street his mission, voting with Democratic members of the commission more often than with his Republican colleagues. In several cases he has refused to work with his GOP SEC members, pushing enforcement policy and SEC rules changes that run counter to the pro-marketplace philosophy the Bush administration has generally supported.

WRIGHT STUFF
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, perhaps sensing that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is positioned for a swift kick in the caboose, has been holding strategy meetings with her senior staff and leadership team to discuss how hard to work behind the scenes to oust the leader. DeLay has managed to sidestep the Beltway and Capitol Hill land mines that have been laid as a result of the state and local investigations going on in Texas. Those investigations, which are not directly tied to DeLay, but rather to PACs and organizations that DeLay and DeLay supporters created, are ongoing.

"You look over at the Republican caucus and you get the feeling that maybe they are ready to look at alternatives to DeLay, which would be advantageous to us on a couple of different levels," says a Democratic leadership staffer. "One, if DeLay goes it's a huge black eye for the party leadership, and maybe hits the White House a bit. Two, it weakens the caucus with some infighting and uncertainty. We might be able to take advantage of that."

DeLay's fall, should it come -- and there are few on Capitol Hill who believe it will happen any time soon -- would depend more on his ability to rebuild broken relations within his own caucus. DeLay is believed to have alienated many of the Republican deputy whips he appointed last session and since angered by refusing to heed their advice. There is also lingering anger at the treatment of House Whip Roy Blunt, who suffered through a bad press when his relationship with a former tobacco lobbyist was made public. Many on Capitol Hill believe that story was initially planted by DeLay operatives concerned that Blunt was positioning himself for an eventual challenge to DeLay.

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