you think you’ve had a bad day?

Top this: Newt Gingrich wants to be my new boss. Not really likely, of course, but the purported front runners for the job–Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz–are almost as scary.

The Washington Post reported today that Secretary of State Colin Powell and his deputy Richard Armitage will step down from their posts should Bush be elected to the presidency in 2004. Granted, it’s not at all a surprising announcement, but personally a distressing one, nonetheless. Powell has been the only member of this administration for whom I could muster any respect and even despite my disappointment with his statements to the U.N. in February about Iraq’s WMDs, he’s remained practically the only voice of restraint and caution in an adminstration of cowboy diplomacy and hawkishness.

He’s also been a positive leader within the Department, pushing an agenda of mandatory–and badly needed–training in leadership and management for mid-level and senior staff, greater opportunities for employee education, and a more positive sense of collaboration and “familyhood” between foreign service and civil service employees, and in embracing and endorsing appropriate technology. On the latter front, surprisingly, Department of State employees didn’t have desktop access to the Internet until Secretary Powell made it a priority his first year. The Secretary also spearheaded an initiative to create the first childcare facility at the Foreign Service Institute.

At my level within the hierarchy, to be fair, the identity of the person at the very top probably doesn’t have much of an effect on my day-to-day activities, and the Department is probably large enough–and the non-political appointees entrenched enough–that even the overall culture wouldn’t shift dramatically under a new Secretary. But it’s been nice, if even just in the abstract, to have someone at the top of my chain of command that I largely can respect and whose priorities I personally can endorse. Intellectually, at least, it’s made my new life as a paper-pushing bureaucrat marginally easier to endure.

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