There's a kind of deja vu all over again with the move of national security adviser Condoleezza Rice over to the State Department. If memory serves, then-Secretary of State William P. Rogers, undercut regularly by President Richard M. Nixon's foreign policy adviser, Henry A. Kissinger, left after Nixon's reelection in 1972. He was replaced by Kissinger.
Kissinger held both jobs for two years, which deftly put an end to that unseemly and annoying policy bickering over Vietnam and other matters in the first Nixon term. His then-deputy at the National Security Council, Brent Scowcroft, moved up, and everyone sang from the same hymnal.
When he left the White House, Kissinger took a handful of top staffers with him to Foggy Bottom. Buzz at the White House is that Rice may take even more with her. The NSC senior directors for various areas making the move might include Franklin C. Miller for nuclear proliferation, Thomas A. Shannon for Latin America, Daniel Fried for Europe and Elliott Abrams for Mideast matters.
Abrams, a former assistant secretary of state for Latin America, had that little problem a while back when he was convicted of two counts of lying to Congress during the Iran-contra scandal. He later was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush. Still, Senate confirmation could be an issue. Might be easier to confirm him as ambassador to Israel, a job former NSC aide Robert D. Blackwill may have liked.
There's also chatter that the senior director for Asia, Michael Green, who we've been trying to give a fine job to at Georgetown University, is now eyeing the equivalent State Department assistant-secretaryship. But there's talk that mega-fundraiser and Bush Pioneer Franklin L. Lavin, an Asian-based banker and ambassador to Singapore, is also being looked at for that job.
Meanwhile, the flavor du jour for deputy secretary of state Monday was Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton. On Tuesday, it was Arnold Kanter, undersecretary of state for political affairs in Bush I. On Wednesday, the taste buds shifted to Robert M. Kimmitt, who preceded Kanter in the political affairs post at State, was ambassador to Germany and more recently worked on Wall Street, and is now a senior official at Time Warner Inc.
But yesterday, the culinary choice drifted to career foreign service officer R. Nicholas Burns, ambassador to NATO, former ambassador to Greece and, before that, a department spokesman. As it so happens, he's in Washington to do one of those tiresome "Whither NATO?" -- in this context pronounced "Nahh-toe" -- briefings at State. Burns is also speculated about for the political job.
Today the World -- Tomorrow the Bank
As for Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, he told reporters traveling with him to Chile on Wednesday that he has received many offers in the past 48 hours, "I can assure you. Some kind of nice." Powell, holding forth in the airport lounge in Manaus, Brazil, was asked what kinds of things "tempt" him. Things like the World Bank?
"You guys keep tossing this one out," he said. "I'm flattered by the speculation but have no plans to join the World Bank in any capacity."
Of course, the reason us guys keep tossing it out is because we feel bad for the folks at the bank, who are desperate for him to come over and who keep floating it.
He Said He Could Not Tell a Lie
Issue has been taken with an assertion in Wednesday's column that Supreme Court Justice William Cushing filled in for Chief Justice John Jay in administering the oath to President George Washington the second time around because Jay was out of the country on official business. Our source was the very authoritative Congressional Quarterly Guide to the Presidency, Second Edition, Vol. I.
Not true, says Loop Fan and Washington lawyer Walter B. Stahr, author of a forthcoming (in March) biography called "John Jay: Founding Father."
"I am 100 percent sure that Jay was not overseas in March of 1793," Stahr said, basing his conclusion in part on newspapers from New York reporting the celebration of his departure. "He did not leave on his famous mission to England until May 12, 1794."
Maybe he told his wife he was going out of the country?
Flagellation, Then Dinner
We'll soon be getting to the Christmas party season, which brings the customary flood of invitations from government agencies, shops and the like. Be on the lookout for an invite from Finnish Ambassador Jukka Valtasaari. If his event for Jason Pontin, editor in chief of the MIT Technology Review, is any indication, you don't want to miss it.
Here's the schedule of events before the 30 to 40 guests discuss nuclear energy policy after dinner:
6:00 p.m. Bar will be open for all guests.
6:00 p.m. Sauna for ladies.
7:00 p.m. Sauna for gentlemen.
8:00 p.m. Dinner will be served.
This is to be an authentic sauna, almost like in Finland. For example, birch twigs, which you use to hit yourself to increase circulation, and for aromatherapy, are provided. They'll also give you towels.
On the other hand, you won't be able to then jump naked into a snowbank or into those brain-numbing, frigid lakes they have back home. Okay, it's not coed sauna, but, hey, this is Washington.