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.
Actually, Brill shares some common attributes with other top Negroponte aides: They're former State Department types who have long worked with Negroponte. These include Thomas Fingar, who moved from the State Department's intelligence bureau to head the National Intelligence Council, and Patrick F. Kennedy, a former assistant secretary of state for administration and a top aide to Negroponte both at the United Nations and in Baghdad.
Alexander Named to Run NSA
Speaking of the cloak-and-dagger crowd, Army Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander has been nominated by Bush for reappointment to the rank of lieutenant general and assignment as director, National Security Agency/chief, Central Security Service, Fort Meade.
Some say Alexander was not the first choice of the former NSA director (and now deputy DNI director), Gen. Michael V. Hayden. But Alexander is a favorite of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
Junior Pols to Ruminate on Day's Vital Issues
The stereotype would have buttoned-down young Republicans convening in a Cleveland hotel, discussing the virtues of a flat tax and the evils of big government and labor unions. The reality, according to their Web site, is that the Young Republican National Convention starting today is looking to put the party back into GOP.
The July 6-10 gathering features a night off for "attendees to explore the lights of Las Vegas on their own," the site says. "Many of you have never been to Las Vegas and have not had the opportunity to see all the City of Las Vegas has to offer. With dozens of hotels on the Las Vegas Strip, hundreds of bars and clubs, attendees will not have a problem finding a place in which to enjoy all Las Vegas has to offer." Yes, indeed.
Even better, the meetings are at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, which styles itself "the ultimate casino experience." The resort says it is "the perfect venue" and "considered . . . to be one of the most exclusive and luxurious hotels and casinos in all of Las Vegas," with the largest pool in town and 135,000 square feet of casino games, so you can gamble -- or "game" -- all night. Book tickets now for heavy metal Judas Priest appearing with Queensryche this weekend.
No, former education secretary William J. Bennett is not listed as a guest speaker.
And the Young Democrats of America? Their convention in August is in San Francisco, which is a beautiful town. But they are staying at the Holiday Inn and "nearby hotels."
Worse, there's lots of chatter on the Web site about platform-drafting. "Come get inspired" by House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and California party chief Art Torres.
"Stay tuned as we announce more exciting speakers leading up to convention." But no Coldplay? The Killers? Not even Kiss? What was that song they did? "I'm Living in Sin . . . at the Holiday Inn"?