Don't get me wrong; she's not going to be forced out because she's unqualified--after all, if qualifications mattered, she obviously wouldn't have been appointed in the first place.
She's not going to be forced out because of her increasingly serious series of embarrassing gaffes--claiming that illegal immigration isn't actually illegal, claiming that 9/11 terrorists entered the US through Canada, issuing a report that returning military vets could be recruited as terrorists by right wing groups, or publishing the TSA Security Manuel online.
Frankly, she's not even going to be forced out for her disastrous handling of the Christmas Bomber story--although her laughable claim that "The system worked" will go down as a monumental gaffe. (A guy on the watch list, reportedly without a passport and without luggage, pays cash for a one way ticket and gets on a plane to the US and the only reason he is unable to blow it up is that his bomb fails to detonate and a passenger overwhelms him--what part of that makes Janet think that "The system worked"?) (Update: Janet is now admitting that "the system failed miserably".)
No, she's going to be forced out because the entire world knows that she's incompetent and the President's team understands that they will be held politically responsible if there is a major incident on her watch. My guess is that Rahm Emanuel called the President sometime in the last 24 hours and said that the Democrats will lose 100 seats in Congress if the President leaves Napolitano in office and someone takes down a plane within three months of the election. Team Obama has to be considering the Madrid train bombings which were perfectly timedto topple the government of Jose Maria Aznar.
So in the next six months--probably much sooner--Janet will move on and the President will pick an obscure, non-political, retired General who is clearly qualified and above reproach.
But how does Napolitano find a face saving exit? Ah, here's where the story gets interesting. Janet obviously can't use the classic Washington excuse that she wants "to spend more time with her family." And she can't just Waltz over to K street...even Washington's revolving door doesn't revolve that quickly. No. Janet has to make it look like she's leaving DHS for something bigger.
So what could be bigger than being a Cabinet Secretary? Being a Senator. Janet needs a face saving way out of DHS that preserves her political capital and keeps Washington insiders wondering if she is coming back. Her best move is to resign her position in March and immediately announce against John McCain.
Can she actually beat McCain? Of course not. But that's not the point. If she caps off her disastrous year at DHS by getting fired and then aimlessly searching for a place to land, her political career is over and she's a laughingstock. However, if she resigns and immediately announces against McCain, she has managed to save face and regain political credibility.
She's also betting on a Black Swan--those extremely rare game changing events that can't be predicted, but seem obvious in retrospect. She's hoping that J.D. Hayworth--or in his absence Len Munsil--takes out McCain in the August 24th primary. Frankly, in the current political climate--and after bankrupting the state and then bolting--it's unlikely that Janet could defeat Hayworth or Munsil, but it would be an interesting race.
Am I wrong to predict that Janet will resign the DHS job in March and immediately announce that she's running against John McCain? Probably. After all, it's a pretty bold prediction--or course I have a pretty good record with bold predictions. Like this one and this one, and this one, and of course, this one. In fact, the most likely scenario is that she leaves within the next six months and quietly sinks into the obscurity of a D.C. law firm. But the McCain scenario is a distinct possibility and if someone were to give me decent odds, I think it would be an excellent bet.
Speaking of predictions, It's been a year since Janet accepted the job at Homeland Security and you may recall that I pointed out that the job would be a disaster for her.
The Governor has just accepted the worst job in the United States Government. If nothing happens, then she will go down in history as an obscure figure who is responsible for you having to take off your shoes at the airport. Even if she manages to prevent a disaster, you will never hear about it. The job has no up side.
But what about a Black Swan? What if someone puts Anthrax in the Metro, a comet hits Houston, a 500 year flood wipes out a good chunk of the Midwest, or a ticked off engineer from Pakistan, Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan crosses the border from Canada with a nuclear bomb in the back of a VW Micro Bus?
What then? Then Janet becomes Michael Brown after Katrina, Neville Chamberlain after Munich or Bill Buckner after the 1986 World Series.
Her tenure at Homeland Security will either entail year after year of career-ending obscurity, or sudden, total, unexpected and unmitigated disaster.
Since then, Janet has gone from gaffe to gaffe and she is well on her way to becoming Buckner. One announcement would change all that.