Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Was Andy Card the Problem?

Will Card's resignation be the cure? That remains to be seen. While much of his job was to control the relationship between Congress and the President, he probably isn't the one responsible for the loss of the President's popularity.

In today's
Newsweek article the Dubai ports debacle is laid directly at Card's feet, but the freefall in the President's popularity began long before the United Arab Emirates sought to manage several important U.S. ports through the purchase of a British company. The nosedive could have been predicted shortly after the lies that created the buildup to the war in Iraq were exposed. It seemed that one little thing after another was added to the list of reasons why George W. Bush is incompetent.

This morning's Washington Post gives this accounting of the President's remarks:

Bush made the announcement in the Oval Office at 8:30 a.m., standing at the podium with Card to his right, Bolten to his left. The president thanked Card for his "wise counsel, his calm in crisis, his ability, his integrity, and his tireless commitment to public service" and said "he will always be my friend."

Card apparently feels the same loyalty. He isn't expected to get chatty after leaving his post in April. He's held the post for 5.5 years. The office of Chief of Staff is a high burnout position with most lasting about 2 years.

The New York Times doesn't seem to think the change in staff will bring the results the President and Congressional Republicans are looking for. They desperately need something, anything to stop the bleeding in the President's popularity. From Today's NYT:

The move announced today, however, leaves in place Karl Rove, the president's top political adviser, who is a deputy chief of staff. And it does not represent an infusion of new blood, because Mr. Bolten is also a longtime adviser, and served as a deputy chief of staff from 2001 to 2003 before becoming budget director.

So even if Mr. Bolten should usher in a period of closer White House cooperation with the Congress, as many lawmakers hope, there was no immediate clue that the personnel change would bring substantive shifts in policy, let alone usher in a changed presidency.

The Times also spoke with some Democrats who were not confident that the country would benefit from this move.

Democrats responded not by focusing on Mr. Card or Mr. Bolten, but on the president's problems.

Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York called the shuffle "simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic," according to the Reuters news agency. And Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois said, "If the White House is looking to change course, they picked the wrong person to toss overboard."

My sentiments exactly! Love the snark coming from the Senator. Time will tell if this does any good. There will be some other changes in staff as Bolten promotes those he wishes to work with. With critical elections in nine months Republicans had better hope the President's new staff can hit the ground running.

Update: Froomkin does his usual excellent job with analysis of this issue. I found this observation interesting from Froomkin:
In most White Houses, the chief of staff is a godlike figure, putting his stamp
on the presidency in almost every conceivable way. But in the Bush White House,
political guru Karl Rove and Vice President Cheney loom much larger and have way
more to do with what the president says and does than Card ever did. As long as
they stay put, the rest may largely be window dressing.
Froomkin also spends some time on the President's recent interest in getting buddy-buddy with a few in the press as well as the current trial of Saddam's driver.


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