NEVER MIND THE new faces on Capitol Hill, where Congress has changed hands for the first time in 12 years. The real action is at the White House, in Foggy Bottom and across the river at the Pentagon, where the Bush administration's game of musical chairs seems to be over for now. For all the new jobs, however, there are precious few new faces, and anyone expecting new policies is bound to be disappointed.
It has been a busy few weeks. Today, President Bush is expected to name John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, as deputy secretary of State. Replacing Negroponte will be retired Vice Adm. J. Michael McConnell, a 25-year intelligence veteran. Meanwhile, over at the Pentagon, Robert M. Gates has just started using his new "Secretary of Defense" stationery. Gates is a former director of the CIA, where the current chief, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, was Negroponte's deputy until May.
What does it all mean? First, lest anyone doubted it, Vice President Dick Cheney remains a force to be reckoned with. There is no reason to believe these changes in personnel presage a major change in policy, which by all accounts Cheney opposes. In each case, the administration has turned to trusted men who pass muster with Cheney.