April 20, 2006
At least that's what they want you to think. The likelhood that Karl Rove will give up any substantial amount of power in the White House is minimal at best. No doubt, the new chief of staff Josh Bolten wants to be in charge of policy-making, and President Bush wants to make every gesture to make it seem that way. The question is whether Bush and others in the White House have recognized that there is a big difference between what is necessary to win elections (politics) and what is necessary to run a government (policy). The Clinton White House had the same problem, and was often criticized for being in "perpetual campaign mode" under James Carville. In the Washington Post, Dan Balz interprets this to mean that the White House is in "survival mode." I think that is going a bit far. I am by no means a huge fan of Mr. Bush, and [even though] I give him credit for his determination to carry on in the war against Islamo-fascism, I never expected that much from him in terms of domestic policy. I will give him this, however: He has shown a consistent ability to bounce back from adversity and surprise critics by exceeding their low expectations of him. I'm not banking on a spectacular comeback in his last three years, but he may just end up with a more-or-less satisfactory job performance -- as long as he listens to conservative critics and stops relying first and foremost on Karl Rove.
I figured this would be a good moment to check out Talking Points Memo for the first time in a while; Josh Marshall observes: "unless I'm missing something, this 'shake-up' has yet to see anyone actually penetrate the Bush White House bubble." He also thinks it's strange that no replacement for McClellan has been announced. A caller to Rush Limbaugh said he should take the job, and of course Rush demurred on the grounds he wouldn't take the pay cut. According to the Washington Post, former Rush fill-in and current Fox News host Tony Snow is a leading candidate, as is Pentagon spokesman Dan Senor, who recently married NBC political correspondent Campbell Brown. Either of those guys would be just fine, I think.
I briefly thought about attending the annual political whoop-dee-do down in Wakefield, Virginia, but decided I'm just not well [enough] versed in what's going on in the Old Dominion to make it worth my while. It is a bipartisan tradition that was intended to get everyone together in a friendly, informal atmosphere, hopefully overcoming the bitterness and distrust of politics as usual. Given the unfathomable showdown in Richmond between Republicans in the Senate and Republicans in the House of Delegates right now, there must have been a lot of whispering and intrigues going on among the politicos. The Washington Post reported that the event was dominated by a big George Allen contingent, and the photos on Steve Kijak's Right Side Va blog confirm that.
* For you folks in Rio Linda, shad is a fish related to the herring that spends most of the year along the Atlantic coast, but heads upstream to spawn in rivers every spring, when they are easiest to catch. It is tasty but bony, which is apparently why it is cooked over charcoal between wooden planks, so that the meat will come off more easily. Also, shad roe (eggs, like caviar) is a popular delicacy. For more, see The Founding Fish, by John McPhee. [See amazon.com.]