Peter – I think the reader is pretty much right on the merits and thought so at the time — at leat about O’Neill. I think he was a disastrous choice. He disagreed with the administration on substance and he wasn’t a team player on politics. He couldn’t explain the White House’s policies well at all and he clearly enjoyed engaging on peripheral or just plain hair-brained issues. But frankly, I think Dick Cheney deserves more of the criticism. Don’t get me wrong, I think Cheney’s a hoss and doing a great job. But O’Neill was almost surely Cheney’s pick and Cheney should get some flak.
On the other hand, I don’t think it’s fair to say that Bush’s entire domestic team is bad news. John Ashcroft, Tommy Thompson, Spence Abraham have done a good job, particularly Ashcroft, if you ask me. As for, um, er… the other members of the domestic side of the cabinet, I think they um….well, I think it’s fair to say that what they lack in memorability they make up for in teamwork.