The early reviews are in on the new George W. Bush administration. It has all the elements of the classic horror story: a predictable plot, familiar villains and an unshakable sense of déjà vu. On the following pages, we take a look at Bush's nominees and appointments, a diverse cast of characters in every way but ideology. Left to their own devices, this collection of unrepentant cold warriors, anti-choice extremists, Wise-Use desperados and corporate shills (as well as a couple of reasonable old-fashioned conservatives) could make for a harrowing next four years.

Can the forces of good thwart this evil plan? Well, as In These Times went to press, thousands of townspeople were taking their torches to Washington to protest Dubya's inauguration, making one thing clear: There will be no honeymoon!

Craig Aaron


If the "president-select" were seeking an accomplice in his bid to transport the federal education agenda across mainstream lines, he found his man in Rodney Paige.

While Bush's designate to head the Department of Education is expected to sail through the Senate confirmation, the 67-year-old Houston superintendent and former football coach is under fire from gay activists for allowing anti-gay harassment to go unchecked in the 200,000-pupil system whose board he sat on from 1989 to 1994, and which he has helmed for the past six years.

The Houston area has seen a spate of anti-gay hate crimes--including anti-gay murders, some of them involving local teens--stretching back to the late '80s. A 1997 report by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network flunked Houston schools on its handling of discrimination and harassment of gay kids. GLSEN also faults district leaders for failing to implement a 1999 report aimed at dispelling anti-gay prejudice in schools and issued by the very federal department Paige is slated to head. GLSEN is now leading a letter-writing campaign to Paige urging that he address the concerns of gay students and their parents when he becomes education secretary.

Paige's endorsement of school vouchers is also worrisome. At Senate hearings on January 10, Paige showed that he would keep step in a GOP retreat from support for public schools. Paige noted that he forgoes the term "vouchers" because of its icky ideological baggage, opting instead to promote "federal funds" for "nonpublic schools."

Sen. Edward Kennedy read between the lines and warned the nominee not to "abandon our schools." But even Vermont Republican James Jeffords, who in previous sessions has thwarted conservative bids to pass voucher schemes, joined a generally adoring chorus. Fellow senators, Jeffords said, would all "just run out and declare your victory right now," were it not that Paige still needed to pass an up-or-down confirmation vote.


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