The fiction that sustains Tony Blair's indulgence of George Bush -- that with the help of the US State Department, he can blunt the loons in the White House -- has taken another blow with the news that John Negroponte is to leave the job of Director of National Intelligence and move to be Condi Rice's Deputy.
While helping Condi fill one in a line of embarrassingly unfilled top positions, it confirms that the top insider jobs in the Bush administration, like the Mafia, go only to "made men" -- and if anyone has established his credentials with a few hits, Negroponte surely has. After all, he was right there at the UN during Colin Powell's inglorious speech, and he knows as much as anybody about Bush's terrorism detention policies.
The most likely implication is that Bush expects some rough diplomatic going with his new Iraq policy, and wants a bad cop to Condi's good cop to sell it to his dwindling band of overseas allies. Unfortunately, Blair is probably not even able to keep pace with the shuffling in Washington, as his holiday in Miami is apparently being spent mostly on the phone to Gerry Adams.