Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge is refusing to testify before Congress with regard to the White House’s anti-terrorism budget, claiming it would violate the Constitution’s requirements on separation of powers. That may be all well and good, but what strikes the folks at WWR as odd is this quote:
Ridge said he will continue to meet informally with lawmakers, but he has no intention of testifying because he is an adviser to the president, not a Cabinet member obliged to appear on Capitol Hill.
..when compared to this quote from President Bush’s 9/20 address to the nation:
So tonight I announce the creation of a Cabinet-level position reporting directly to me — the Office of Homeland Security.
OK, so the position reports directly to the President… so an adviser perhaps… but it’s a Cabinet-level position? If the two are so separate in the mind of the Administration, why the need for it to be a Cabinet-level position? The Reagans had “advisers” that were loopy astrologers, but you didn’t seem them getting Cabinet-level positions. So, which is it? Is Tom Ridge merely an adviser (who happens to have responsibility for coordinating spending by several federal agencies – a little bit beyond advising, we’d say) – or is he part of the Cabinet? We suppose that depends on the day of the week.