It’s something we’re all forced to think about. In the event of a catastrophic attack on Washington, what is the line of succession to the president?
Even civics-challenged Americans know that Vice President Dick Cheney is next in line to President George W. Bush. But beyond that?
Arguably, the next most “presidential” person — in experience, demeanor, national reputation and international renown — is Secretary of State Colin Powell. Only he, not unlike Powell predecessor Alexander “I’m in charge here” Haig, is not next in the line of succession.
Powell’s behind Denny Hastert and Ted Stevens. The former is the Speaker of the House; the latter, the Senate President Pro Tempore.
And if you figured Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was right behind Powell, you figured wrong. It’s John Snow. The Treasury Secretary. Yes, THAT John Snow.
But there is change afoot. There is legislation approved in the Senate and pending in the House, that would elevate the Homeland Security Secretary — Tom Ridge — from 18th to the 8th spot.
He would be right in front of Gayle Norton and Ann Veneman. They are the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture, respectively.