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Thursday, 4 January, 2001, 06:21 GMT
Press gives Bush high marks
President elect Bush
The press have praised Mr Bush for his diverse picks
By BBC News Online's Kevin Anderson in Washington

The US press has praised George W Bush for the diversity in his cabinet nominees and have generally given him high marks for his choices.

Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post declared, "The final grades are in - and George Bush has passed, sometimes with flying colours, in other cases grudgingly."

But while being racially diverse, some press outlets said that Mr Bush's choice's lacked ideological diversity and experience.

Conservative diversity

Alison Mitchell of the New York Times wrote: "President-elect George W Bush has put forward a governing team every bit as ethnically and racially diverse as President Clinton's."

She also noted "in selecting his cabinet, Mr Bush has showcased some of the breadth of the conservative movement."
Secretary of Interior nominee
The choice of Ms Norton as interior secretary is one of Mr Bush's more controversial choices

But for its racial and ethic diversity, the Bush cabinet is still true to the Republican Party's conservative base.

"Few would dispute that there is a conservative cast to Mr. Bush's cabinet, perhaps more than might have been expected given his talk of ending the bruising partisanship in Washington and reaching out to Democrats after the bitter, extended presidential election," Ms Mitchell noted.

And Democrat Senator Robert Torricelli said: "While not without its controversies, this cabinet is more representative of the country than any Republican presidential cabinet in memory. There appears to have been a genuine effort to achieve real balance."

And Ms Mitchell noted that some of Mr Bush's choices would face opposition in Congress.

  • Mr Bush's choice for secretary of labour, Linda Chavez, "is a familiar and polarising figure from the nation's cultural wars," she wrote.
  • The fiercest fight will be over Senator John Ashcroft as choice for attorney general. He is a staunch opponent of abortion, and he blocked the first black member of Missouri's Supreme Court from being appointed to the federal bench.
  • Gail Norton, nominated to be the next secretary of the interior, will also likely face stiff questions about her property rights positions.

Pursuing his agenda

The Washington Post also praised Mr Bush for his ethnically and racially diverse choices.

"President-elect Bush has accomplished his predecessor's goal of assembling an administration that looks more like America," Mike Allen of the Post wrote.

But he added: "At the same time has chosen a Cabinet that can be expected to pursue his conservative agenda with gusto and discipline."

"(Mr Bush) wanted managers who would loyally transform his campaign platform into reality," Mr Allen wrote, and indeed, several of his Cabinet picks will be important as Mr Bush pushes his agenda through Congress.

To that end, Ms Norton has voiced support for drilling for oil the in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Mr Bush's choice for secretary of education, Rod Paige, shares the president-elect's support for school voucher programmes, and the nominee for secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, is a vocal proponent of a national missile defence system, which was a key issue for the incoming president.

'Experience challenged'

But Mr Bush did not escape unscathed from his first post-election test.

The New York Times wrote as the president-elect's last three choices continued his efforts to build racial diversity, "what they do not add is significant ideological diversity".

And the Los Angeles times ran an editorial with the headline: "Experience-Challenged."

California is struggling through an energy crisis, and the newspaper criticised Mr Bush for his choice of Senator Spencer Abraham.
Spencer Abraham
The Los Angeles Times questioned Senator Abraham's readiness to become energy secretary

"The most important of the nominations, of former Senator Spencer Abraham as energy secretary, is perhaps the most puzzling," the paper wrote.

"Abraham, defeated in November after one lacklustre term in the Senate, has long political experience but none of it focused on energy issues," the paper added.

And the paper seemed equally puzzled at the choice of Linda Chavez to head the Labour Department.

"Her direct political or professional experience on labour issues is minimal," the paper said, but added, "since the Labour Department is a perennial stepchild for Republican administrations, that might not be much of a handicap."

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03 Jan 01 | Americas
Bush's administration
03 Jan 01 | Business
Bush economics team
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