Colin Powell’s resignation as Secretary of State last Monday signaled a potentially record-breaking number of second-term Cabinet alterations for an administration that stressed continuity in its second term.
Powell’s letter of resignation marked the sixth departure of President Bush’s 15 Cabinet positions. More departures could be announced in the coming weeks, according to White House officials.
Richard Nixon appointed nine Cabinet positions before his second term; Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton each appointed six. However for President Bush, who ran on a platform of predictability and continuity in the 2004 election, these six resignations and the other pending announcements could come to a total higher than expected.
Three other members of the Bush Cabinet accompanied Powell with their resignation letters Monday: Education Secretary Rod Paige, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Commerce Secretary Don Evans resigned last week.
White House legal counsel Alberto Gonzales, who opposes the Geneva Conventions and is a potential candidate for the Supreme Court, has been named as Ashcroft’s successor. On Monday, Bush nominated National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice for the position of Secretary of State and promoted Stephen Hadley to Rice’s current position.
Rice would be the second woman to hold the position of Secretary of State and the first black woman.
Hadley’s position does not require Senate confirmation, and confirmation for Rice and Gonzales seems all but certain, according to the New York Times.
The remaining positions have yet to be officially filled, although analysts suspect Margaret Spellings to be named as Education Secretary and Mercer Reynolds to be named as Commerce Secretary.