Parting Thoughts on Protecting the Nation

I know the president's plan to create a Department of Homeland Security is bold, sweeping and important, but I'm struck by a couple of other things.

First, the project is almost incomprehensibly complex. We're talking about packing up 100 agencies and offices, with 100 different cultures and traditions and roughly 170,000 thousand employees and relocating them within a single new department that will do everything from patrolling our coastlines to passing out vaccines.

I don't have any clue how anybody can transform so many wildly varied outfits into a smoothly functioning bureaucracy. The organizational charts in the newspapers remind me of every parent's worst nightmare — assembly instructions for something with an almost infinite number of pieces — like a motorcycle or perhaps a small airplane.

Second, the issue strikes me as — dare I say it — dull. I know we're talking about reforms that could save thousands of lives, but I can't help but recall Bismarck's observation that there are two things one never wants to observe: the creation of sausages and laws.

President Bush has invested his considerable prestige in a reform that will put most of us to sleep. But then again, his job is not to entertain the press, but to protect the nation.