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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

They Did Not Hasten Either Departure So There Is No Cause For Celebration

To our regular readers, you will have to forgive Thomas for not being here. He has not felt well for the better part of four days. With any luck, he may feel up to task tomorrow. (I do hope so as it is our day to truly let loose on blogging.) But, in the meantime, I am here. As the "captain" has stepped aside for the time being, the "XO" is "large and in charge."

The WaPo has the story regarding the departure of White House press Secretary Scott McClellan and the resignation of Karl Rove as a policy director.

Karl Rove, the president's most influential adviser and a dominant force in the Bush administration since its beginning, surrendered key policy responsibilities today while press secretary Scott McClellan announced his resignation.

Both moves were part of the makeover promised earlier this week by a White House seeking to reverse sagging public opinion ratings.

Rove will remain deputy chief of staff to President Bush, but he will drop his portfolio as policy coordinator -- a job he assumed a year ago -- and once again concentrate his focus on broader strategy and politics as the 2006 mid-term elections approach, the White House announced.

The Bush administration's standing in the polls has plummeted to new lows in recent weeks as the war in Iraq has dragged on with little visible progress toward the formation of a new government in Baghdad. The Republican Party's standing has suffered as well, according to polling, at the worst possible time. With elections just seven months away, Republicans are being buffeted by ethics scandals and general dissatisfaction with the incumbent party's capacity to govern. Much of the pressure for a shakeup has come from congressional Republicans.

The moves followed a declaration Monday by Joshua B. Bolten, the new chief of staff, that any administration official considering leaving should do so sooner rather than later. Further change is expected shortly with most attention focused on replacing Treasury Secretary John W. Snow.

Bolten will replace Rove with Joel Kaplan, a trusted aide from the Office of Management and Budget, which Bolten headed until a few days ago. Bush yesterday announced Rob Portman's nomination as OMB chief. Joseph W Hagin, the other deputy chief of staff, also turns over his policy management duties to Kaplan but remains deputy for operations.

"Karl will continue to serve as the deputy chief of staff and senior adviser," said deputy White House press secretary Ken Lisaius. "What's going to happen is Joel will come in to manage the daily policy process and that will leave Karl more time to focus on truly strategic planning at a critical time for the presidency."

McClellan is the most visible face of the White House after the president himself since he presides over the increasingly contentious daily briefings that have become common fare not only on C-SPAN but on the late night humor shows.

Since the perjury indictment of vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the briefings have featured many more angry questions from some reporters who feel they were misled by McClellan on White House involvement in a series of leaks on pre-war evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

McClellan's resignation was not unexpected. Bush stood next to McClellan, a long time Texas associate, as the resignation was announced on the White House South Lawn just before the president left for a trip to Alabama. "I thought he handled his assignment with class, integrity," the president said. "It's going to be hard to replace Scott, but nevertheless he made the decision and I accepted it. One of these days, he and I are going to be rocking in chairs in Texas and talking about the good old days."

McClellan told Bush: "I have given it my all, sir, and I have given you my all, sir, and I will continue to do so as we transition to a new press secretary."

No replacement has been named yet for McClellan.

First allow me to address the overall story. No one is surprised by this move at all. As the months wore on for Mr. McClellan it became increasingly obvious that he had lost control of the White House press corps. The pointed exchanges with David Gregory and White House dinosaur Helen Thomas punctuated his every day. It became keenly evident that the press corps was openly hostile towards him, and had slowly turned their ire from the president to Mr. McClellan. When Ari Fleischer left the White House a couple of years ago, I worried the administration would appoint someone who lacked Ari's flair for handling the press. Mr. McClellan, while he should be commended for giving it "the old college try" was apparently in over his head as the press turned meaner and nastier towards the administration.

As for possible replacements, I have heard two names. One, Tony Snow, is through the media. Supposedly, the White House approached him today about the job. I doubt MKr. Snow would accept the pay cut. He has a successful talk radio show, and is still a senior FOX News analyst. I am aware of his credentials--especially those within former White Houses as a speechwriter--but a speechwriter is a bit different from handling the literal barbarians at the gates in the White House press room everyday.

Meanwhile, Hugh Hewitt is floating Stephen Colbert to fill Mr. McClellan's shoes. Mr. Colbert, in short, is a comedian on Comedy Central, and hardly the type of person needed for the job. (Sorry Hugh, nice try.) As for GOP and the City, they nominate Jack Bauer for the open position. While I do enjoy the comedy of a character like Jack Bauer dealing with a combative press corps (they would have no clue what the word "hostile" really meant until he stepped up to the podium), that is, of course, highly unrealistic. But who says that bloggers lack a sense of humor?

But whoever the White House chooses, I hope it is someone who can handle the press and keep them in line.

As for Karl Rove's departure as a part of policy direction, this makes more sense than not. With the 2006 mid-terms just around the corner, Rove will be working overtime to ensure the GOP maintains their majority. (Of course, this is not a foregone conclusion. As Hugh has pointed out, and WE agree, the GOP is in a mess of trouble this year, and 2006 could become their Waterloo as much as 1994 was for the Democrats.) He is going to be working overtime to make sure that people like Rick Santorum are reelected, and people like Michael Steele do get elected. And while he will still working with the president, his focus will not be on White House policy, but rather the GOP message for 2006.

The Bunny ;)


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