one undersecretary of international
affairs could be considered a misfortune; to lose
two – especially when #2 hasn’t even started in the job yet –
looks suspiciously like carelessness.
Tim Adams, the incumbent undersecretary, announced
[pdf] his resignation in February, saying – honest – that he wanted
to spend more time with his family. (Jack
Shafer has everything you need to know about that old chestnut.)
His replacement was to be Timothy Ryan, but he, too, seems
to have discovered "personal reasons" why he doesn’t want the job.
It’s a hard job, and it’s largely thankless, and the Treasury secretary himself,
Hank Paulson, seems to have taken personal control of the juiciest
part of it, which is China. But Ryan knew all that going in.
Adams has just one week left at Treasury, and Clay Lowery,
his deputy, looks set to step in until a more permanent replacement can be found.
Up until now, the position has been an oasis of competence within the Bush administration.
With luck, Paulson will be able to find someone good who’s willing
to do the job, despite the fact that if the Democrats win the White House in
2008, the new appointee will be unemployed come January 2009.