THE NELSON REPORT, Chris Nelson’s intriguing daily report on everything interesting in Washington, is worth reprinting in part today. He sent this before the news that Condi Rice gets Powell’s perch, but the line-up that Chris has linked to this State Department decision is fascinating.
Chris Nelson writes:
When is everyone’s expectation still a surprise? When Colin Powell resigns months before HE thought was going. Who will succeed Powell? Senate sources say National Security Advisor Condi Rice.
House sources say UN Ambassador John Danforth. As Powell learned last week, it’s President Bush who makes the decision. Best bet? Rice.
If she takes over State, expect her deputy, Steve Hadley, to run the NSC. (Interesting “dark horse” for NSC? OMB’S Josh Bolton, with management skills which have eluded the NSC operation for some time.)
Why not Wolfowitz for NSC? The President doesn’t know him all that well, and doesn’t like him all that much. Is Powell’s sudden departure part of a larger pattern? You bet.
Pair this with the bloodbath ongoing at CIA. Porter Goss and his ex-Hill staff are carrying out a brutal purge of the career professionals seen as an impediment to carrying out political orders.
If Rice is offered State, expect her to remove the entire top layer of Powell/Armitage career professionals. But didn’t Rice tell friends she didn’t want State? So what…see this as part of the complete national security overhaul which Powell told Bush was needed.
Powell just didn’t think it would start with him. Implications for Iran? North Korea? Watch to see if John Bolton (not Josh) moves up to Deputy Secretary, or perhaps to Deputy NSC. As long as VP Cheney stays (note his heart flutter this weekend) so does Scooter Libby, otherwise a possible NSC chief.
Bet bet? Hard line continues. No ray of hope today? Depends…some folks think Powell’s strong right arm, Deputy Secretary Rich Armitage, might be asked to take on the new National Intelligence Coordinator’s role.
Other folks think this is delusional…stay tuned.

Chris Nelson has just about the best take on the possibilities.
— Steve Clemons