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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A new attitude?

So is the Card resignation that sign of a new White House, ready to acknowledge its fallibility and work with others to get out of the mess created by its own incompetence?

I doubt it. It's more a reflection of the old line about smacking a mule with a 2-by-4 to get its attention.

The New York Times didn't waste a lot of verbiage to get to that point. David Sanger writes:

President Bush replaced his chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., with another longtime loyalist on Tuesday, a step unlikely to satisfy calls within his own party for fresh thinking to address the administration's troubles.

In turning to Joshua B. Bolten, his budget director, as the new chief of staff, the president stayed within what one close associate called a "circle of comfort" and what Mr. Bush's critics consider a closed world that brooks little doubt or dissent.

The Washington Post, in contrast, thinks the 2-by-4 may have done some good. Jim VandeHei writes:

... But the Card move is only the latest sign that -- with his presidency under the stress of low public approval ratings, an unpopular war and a stalled legislative agenda -- Bush is more often deferring to the expectations of Washington conventional wisdom.
The one constant the Bush White House and W himself has prided itself on is it knows what it is doing and everyone else is wrong. The fact that Rummy and Deadeye Dick are still influential -- never mind in Rummy's case still has a job -- is a reflection of that mule-like attitude. This move is not a sign of deferring to conventional wisdom.

Instead, it's a sign of that arrogant stubborness that says "OK, well maybe it's time to throw the critics a bone." Au revoir, Andy. But a sacrificial lamb is not going to cut it because the critics smell blood (three cliches in one paragraph -- yikes!)

Critics on the GOP side might actually become a teensy bit bolder (their own elections hang in the balance) and who knows, maybe Democrats will develop some nerve. Public opinion polls are unlikely to change much unless there is another cataclysmic event of the 9-11 type. And that leads us then to what happens as the intensity continues to build in anticipation of the midterm election.

Which begs the $64 trillion question: what about "Bush's brain"? As long as Karl Rove remains in the West Wing nothing is going to change. And unless Patrick Fitzgerald succeeds in frog-marching Karl out of the White House with an indictment in the Plame case, don't buy the idea that W is looking at anything close to fresh blood and a fresh start.

This Bush does not believe in kinder and gentler.


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