Change Is Good

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," November 16, 2004, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: The continued cabinet shakeup at the White House: Condi's in, Colin's out at the State Department. Of course, that depends on the Senate OK. It comes at a volatile time in the president's team, six leaving and more to come.

But in case you think that it's a bad thing, Jack Welch is here to remind you that it can be a good thing. The former big honcho at General Electric orchestrated some big staff shakeups of his own to the better, he says.

Jack joins me now from Boston.

Jack, good to have you.


CAVUTO: Good. What do you make of this cabinet shakeup? A lot of people are expressing alarm at the sheer size of it. What do you say?

WELCH: Well, I think there's one big change and that's of course, at state. The other ones, whether it be commerce, agriculture and energy, can use fresh thinking. And I think change brings about some fresh thinking. It energizes teams in the departments that they work in. So, I don't necessarily think it's bad.

CAVUTO: All right, but you know, you are very big, at least when I worked with you, on loyalty. Don't talk out of turn. You know, it's one thing to argue, but it's another thing to do it outside in the mainstream.

Colin Powell had that kind of friction with the White House. Is it good or bad that he's out?

WELCH: Well, I think if you're running something, it becomes a real irritant — whether it's true or not. And I think that Colin Powell was in general a darned good soldier.

But I think in general, it is a nuisance to constantly read that there's a rift between your policy and your key representative around the world, reflecting something else. Now, I'm not sure how much of that was true, but to me, you sure had a party talking about it.

CAVUTO: What does it mean, though, the message this administration is sending on foreign policy that it's still going to be pretty Spartan, and it's still going to be pretty vigorous. There doesn't seem to be much room for accommodation with our European friends. So, what are we to glean from that?

WELCH: I think it says that George Bush won the election. He got a mandate to do things. And he's got his team in place. And he's going to drive the foreign policy of this country along the lines he's been doing, only perhaps more aggressively.

CAVUTO: All right, now, you were at the helm of GE, Jack, for a couple of decades. I'm sure there were times in there where you had to bite the bullet, get rid of guys, maybe, who you liked, were loyal to you. They weren't getting it done. How difficult a process do you think this has been for the president?

WELCH: Well, I think Secretary Powell made it a lot easier by articulating, over the past year or two, that he was in for one term. I don't know about the speculation that I've been hearing, that you've been hearing about him wanting to change his mind in the last few weeks. I don't know if that's true or not. But I think Secretary Powell was pretty clear that he wanted out. And that made it pretty easy to pull his ticket.

CAVUTO: Yes. Do you think that there's a risk in a second term presidency of a letdown? We saw some of that with Ronald Reagan's second term. We saw that, certainly, under Bill Clinton's second term, that, you know, the fire to campaign for something else is gone. So, there is a letdown.

WELCH: No, I think this president is full of vigor. I think he's got a clear-cut sight on what his foreign policy agenda is, and that is to attack terrorism.

And I think these shakeups at education and agriculture and energy will bring some fresh thinking there. And those departments will feel as if it's a whole new world. They won't feel like it's a second choice. They'll feel like they've got a new leader for four years who is going to drive their departments to new heights.

And in state, you will probably see some vigorous action in the staff areas, as you have in the CIA.

CAVUTO: So right before you stepped down, Jack, there wasn't a teeniest temptation to just mail it in?

WELCH: What do you mean by that? No way!

CAVUTO: Sit low.

WELCH: No way! Get out of here!

CAVUTO: All right. I was just curious.

Jack Welch, the former head of GE. Thank you, my friend, appreciate it.

WELCH: Neil, great talking to you.

CAVUTO: Same here.

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