The Washington Times - July 24, 2008, 10:23AM

With so many thinking so much has gone wrong in the Bush administration, conservative icon Paul Weyrich has asked an interesting question: Who in the administration has done the best at living up to the Bush promises of 2000?

His answer is Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, the only cabinet official to go from start to finish (so far) with the president.

“[She] has promulgated regulations which have made the transparency of union expenditures a cornerstone of her efforts. Although she is known for fairness, labor unions despise her. Yet she has handled herself in such a way that she has avoided most direct confrontation. In 1959 one-third of all American workers belonged to a labor union. By 1980 under a quarter of the workforce held a union card. Today that number stands at only 12.1%. If government workers are taken out of the equation the number stands at just 7.5%. Accordingly, Mrs. Chao considers herself Secretary of all workers and not just of those who belong to unions.

The unions are spending a record amount of their employees’ money this year to help elect Senator Barack H. Obama to the Presidency and to elect what they hope will be a veto-proof House of Representatives and Senate. If they achieve their objectives they have pledged to undo all of the reforms Mrs. Chao has been successful in enacting through legislation and regulation. That would be unfortunate because for the first time ever a union member can go to a website and see exactly how his dues money is spent.”

Who else can you offer up?

A lot of folks in the attorney general’s office and the Defense and State departments are disqualified because of uncertainty surrounding the war and terrorist detention. The Department of Homeland Security, which didn’t even exist when President Bush took office, has struggled with immigration and became the symbol of mismanagement for Hurricane Katrina. The Education Department has tried to press forward with No Child Left Behind, but those on both sides of the aisle balk at the way it’s been carried out. There have been scandals at Veterans and HUD, as well as Education.

It’s clear President Bush is out of the running because he failed to meet many of his promises, both those he made in 2000 (remember no nation-building?) and along the way (remember his pledge not to sign a campaign finance bill that he disagreed with, then his signing one even as he said it had constitutional questions?).

Does Ms. Chao win by dint of being the longest-serving major official?

Stephen Dinan, national political correspondent, The Washington Times