danieldrezner.com :: Daniel W. Drezner :: So I'm thinking Doha is dead: This morning George W. Bush announced a new director of the Office of Management and Budget... U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman.... As Portman's replacement as trade representative, Bush chose deputy trade representative Susan Schwab.... Portman has done an excellent job at USTR for the brief time he was there, and his move to OMB might be, on the whole, a good thing for fiscal policy. That said, Bush and Bolten have decided to switch teams at USTR in the weeks before various deadlines for the Doha round of trade talks come up. This is a bad, bad sign for the likelihood of those negotiations to succeed.
I don't see how you can be said to have done a "good job" at any job that you leave after less than two years. The costs of getting first you and your successor up to speed are simply too large.
The excellent Paul Blustein reaches a similar judgment:
Paul Blustein: Hopes for Trade Talks Dim After Personnel Switch: By switching his chief trade negotiator yesterday, President Bush sent a gloomy signal.... The announcement that Bush was naming Rob Portman to become head of the Office of Management and Budget... just 11 months as U.S. trade representative... as global trade negotiations are in serious trouble, with a major deadline just weeks away... widely viewed as indicating that the administration holds little hope for securing a far-reaching deal in the talks this year and possibly for much longer than that.... Yesterday's news fueled worries that the talks might collapse or at least fall into a long state of paralysis....
"For this administration, it is important to get its act together, and that trumped the WTO negotiations," said Claude Barfield, a trade specialist at the American Enterprise Institute. "The White House must think that Portman brings something to the team that is beyond trade... changing leaders at a critical time is bound to have some impact."... The E.U. reacted to word of Portman's reassignment with a caustic suggestion that Washington had diminished the chances for a deal. "We will, of course, manage without him, but at this stage in the round, it would have been easier to manage with him," said Peter Mandelson, the E.U. trade commissioner, in a statement...
Lots of other people would make good OMB Directors. Nominating any of them would not have further disrupted the Doha Round--if anyone in the Bush administration cared, which they don't.