President Bush deserves the highest marks for his appointment yesterday of former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander as secretary of education. The swiftness of the appointment will help to end the bumbling state of disarray in the department which was making a mockery of the president's vaunted promise to become "an education president." That erosion of confidence will be further stemmed by the expected announcement from the White House today that President Bush rejects the Education Department's clumsy and gratuitous announcement last week that minority scholarships at the nation's colleges might be scrapped.
As governor of Tennessee and later as president of that state's university system, Alexander has established impeccable credentials as one who knows the value of and is dedicated to excellence in public education. Thus his appointment will get back on track the commitment to education Bush made a year ago when he met with the nation's governors at Charlottesville, Va. Those governors will be greatly reassured now that Bush has placed a vigorous advocate of education at his side.
The designation of former Illinois Congresswoman Lynn Martin as the new secretary of labor, succeeding Elizabeth Dole, represents another welcome addition to the Bush cabinet.
Both Alexander and Martin are Republicans with hands-on governmental experience, not the ideologues who so permeated the Reagan administration. If Bush is going to devote an inordinate amount of presidential time and attention to foreign affairs, he will need the kind of reliable leadership that men and women like Alexander and Martin can bring to the domestic front.