If ever a man and a job were meant for each other, it is former Utahn Brent Scowcroft in his new post as President-elect Bush's national security adviser.
No one should know better than Scowcroft what to do in the job, since the retired Air Force general served previously as national security adviser during the Ford administration.Likewise, no one should know better than Scowcroft what not to do, since he served on the Tower commission that investigated operations of the National Security Council in connection with the Iran-Contra scandal.
That means he knows more than just the folly of trying to second-guess the President and of letting the NSC staff get involved in implementing policy instead of being restricted to outlining options and giving advice.
He also knows that in order to be effective, the national security adviser must show he can be trusted, and that this is best accomplished by being scrupulously professional and objective rather than a gung-ho partisan.
To describe the requirements of the national security job is to describe Brent Scowcroft. A moderate respected by conservatives and liberals alike, he is especially admired for his grasp of complicated national security and foreign policy issues. Though no shrinking violet when it comes to presenting his views, he still has a reputation for being modest and self-effacing.
No wonder he is so effective at developing a consensus. No wonder he also has avoided making enemies despite his having served on a number of panels dealing with controversial areas of national security.
After the Ford administration, Scowcroft served as an arms control adviser to President Carter and on blue-ribbon commissions that studied the MX missile and the problems of U.S. bases in the Philippines.
In short, by getting Scowcroft to return as national security adviser, President-elect Bush bolstered national confidence in his own ability to pick the best people for demanding responsibilities.