Rove: Private Accounts Ka-Ching On

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, July 6, 2005

You might have thought that President Bush 's endless road show -- spending political capital to sell Social Security private accounts as a key part of his plan to shore up Social Security -- has been largely a failure.

You might have thought this from polls repeatedly showing people disapproved of Bush's performance on Social Security and do not want private accounts.

You would be, it turns out, completely, 180 degrees, wrong.

"We've been probably to some degree too successful" in selling private -- or personal -- accounts, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove said yesterday.

There was a recent poll he had seen that found that about 40 percent of those who disapprove of Bush's performance on this issue actually want private accounts, explained Rove, who stopped by The Washington Post yesterday for lunch. (This is not to say the White House ever, ever looks at polls, though Rove cited several more in the next few minutes.)

"I think their attitude," he said, "is: 'I disapprove of the president's performance on Social Security because he hasn't gotten it done. Hasn't he been talking about this for six months and shouldn't he have gotten it done?' "

"We are," he lamented, "the culture of the now."

And that's very different from the culture of the "no thanks."

The DNI and the DNIplos

Although it is not well known, one new post in the director of national intelligence's office is the director of the National Counterproliferation Center, an Executive Level II job (it outranks undersecretaries).

DNI chief John D. Negroponte is giving this post to Kenneth C. Brill , formerly ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency and frequent antagonist of the Bush administration's harder-liners on policies toward North Korea and Iraq.

Insiders say that responsibility for nuclear proliferation security matters will likely shift to the holder of the new job (he has control over the clandestine assets -- the cloak-and-dagger folks) and away from the State Department. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is reported not to be inclined to intervene to block what some see as a DNI turf expansion.

Brill, a career diplomat and former ambassador to Cyprus, worked closely with Negroponte when the latter was at the United Nations. Brill is now international affairs adviser to the commandant of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

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