Tocqueville would have understood: The more things change, the more they stay the same, if eight or nine years older. Thus the latest specimen is the Hon. Eric Holder, Janet Reno's former number two and Marc Rich's number one, now in line to dispense Justice on behalf of the Obama Administration. There is also Hillary Rodham Clinton herself, all primed to follow in the footsteps of fellow Wellesley alumna Madeleine Albright at the mysterious locale cheekily known as Foggy Bottom. Under a Machiavel like the Messiah, it could turn out to be nothing more than a ceremonial position for Madame Hillary, much as it was for William Rogers in the Nixon Administration where he proved no match for national security adviser Henry Kissinger. The question now: Who will the Big O select to be his Dr. K?
Certainly not Sandy Berger, he of the deep pockets and sturdy socks, the better in which to conceal classified documents implicating him and his boss in shoddy anti-terror work during his time as national security adviser. Yet the spirit of Sandy Berger is already wafting over the new Obama team, in the person of incoming White House deputy chief of staff Mona Sutphen. In the Clinton era, she served as Mr. Berger's special assistant, a position not unlike the one she filled as an adviser to then Ambassador Bill Richardson at the U.N., where her duties included interviewing Ms. Monica Lewinsky for a sensitive post at the U.S. Mission. As it was, Ms. Sutphen got the more exciting job, serving post-Clinton as managing director of Stonebridge International LLC, which is none other than Sandy Berger's big-bucks lobbying firm. In the midst of all this she became a member of the New Leaders Circle of the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), the Council of Foreign Relations, and, the clincher, the Ron Brown Scholarship Program advisory board.
According to a secret report published in the New York Times earlier this year, among Ms. Sutphen's prized possessions "is a caricature of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, her face an embryonic scrunch." Can we assume she does not like Dr. Rice?
That's okay. Here at Enemy Central we don't always like everyone either. But Obama world isn't making it easier with its teasing appointments and nonappointments. John Kerry, for instance, who has abandoned what dignity he still possessed to plead and beg and grovel to be named Secretary of State. Why, he's even ready to take a trip into Cambodia this Christmas to earn that missing foreign policy credential. And frankly we've missed Teresa Heinz Kerry. Having her back in the public eye would put Mrs. Obama in a whole new perspective.
White House matters bring out the heretical side in us, to be sure. The other week, the Washington Post ran a story on a White House butler who'd been serving drinks to presidents and dignitaries for more than 30 years. He's now retiring. Then no sooner did President-elect Obama drop by for a cordial one on one with President Bush than some long-time anti-Bush obsessives were recommending that Mr. Bush stay on as the departing butler's successor. Which made us think: Would it have been better for all concerned if Senator Kerry had won in 2004?
But don't expect any reciprocation from the other side. The remarkable thing about this year's winners is their determination to pile on against the losers. There's an entire school of liberal pundits who know better than even Davids Brooks and Frum how to reform the Republican Party. The group's spokesman recently declared that the GOP "is now more representative of 20th-century South Africa during apartheid than 21st-century America." Does that mean that the Democratic Party is now more representative of 21st century South Africa after apartheid than 20th-century America? It takes a special rhetorical greatness to set off a debate like that, and Frank Rich has never been one to shy away from his own brilliance. In this instance, Mr. Rich should regard his EOW prize as an achievement award. Let's just hope the Obama regime and the rest of the civilized world doesn't proceed to impose sanctions on the Republican Party. That would put its reform wing out of business.