Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Plenty of former Bush aides are taking top positions with the Palin team, Newsweek reports. Steve Biegun, formerly Condoleezza Rice's No. 3 at the National Security Council, will be Palin's top foreign-policy adviser.
One administration critic, Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation, said today that while he personally liked Biegun and viewed him as "extremely competent," his retention as Palin's foreign-policy tutor could have unpleasant consequences. Describing Biegun--a Russia expert who once served as staff director for Sen. Jesse Helms at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee--as a "big gun" in conservative foreign-policy circles, Clemens said "he will turn her into an advocate of Cheneyism and Cheney's view of national-security issues."
But another former colleague, Matthew Waxman, said that he saw Biegun as more of a pragmatist than ideologue when they worked together at the NSC under Rice. "Steven Biegun was one of the steadiest hands I worked with in government," said Waxman. "He was kind of the chief of staff of the NSC. He was running day-to-day operations, and he did so extremely effectively."
How effective he is in instructing Palin on the fine points of national-security and foreign-policy issues may now turn out to be one of the biggest questions of the campaign.
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