WASHINGTON, Mar. 29
Dictionary.com defines "shake-up" (even without any adjective such as "major" or "huge") as "A thorough, often drastic reorganization, as of the personnel in a business or government...the act of imposing a new organization; organizing differently (often involving extensive and drastic changes)."
Television coverage of Josh Bolten's planned elevation to the job of White House chief of staff tended to use the phrase "shake-up," while many of the newspaper ledes, editorial writers, and Senator Lott seemed to see less than that. But the fruits of the overnight labor of 750 redeployed Googling monkeys contain these must-read gems:
The New York Times Rick Berke reports "Republican sources close to the White House say Mr. Card's replacement by Mr. Bolten is just the beginning. In the coming days, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld will be fired, and replaced by former Colorado Senator Gary Hart, a Democrat. In addition, Mr. Bush will further reach out to the opposition by replacing his Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael O. Leavitt with California Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a long-time critic." LINK
The Washington Post's Ed Walsh has this: "White House aides say that on Thursday, Bush has invited the congressional leadership of both parties to a Rose Garden event at which he will announce a budget summit to commence on April 1 at the officers club at Andrews Air Force Base at which 'everything will be on the table' to reduce the deficit, according to sources who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak about the announcement. Asked if 'everything' included possible tax increases, one Administration official said, 'Bush gets it now. He knows in his heart that taxes must be raised -- it's just a question of how much.'" LINK
Newsday's Susan Page says, "It was at a Georgetown dinner party that Mr. Bush secretly attended last week where he realized that a major shake-up was required. Guests, including the president, stayed up late into the night swapping Capitol Hill gossip and talking about the 2008 presidential campaign and the Sidwell Friends admissions process." LINK
Evans and Novak report, "Knowledgeable Republicans say that Mr. Rove will no longer play a role in policy decisions, but will simply coordinate the president's fall travel schedule on behalf of congressional candidates, primarily in the South, the only region in which Bush retains any of his popularity." LINK
Dana Hill of ABC News writes, "Mr. Bush's new spokesman will be Mike McCurry, who performed the same job for President Clinton and is close to White Houses Communications Director Nicolle Wallace." LINK
And the Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt scoops this, "Bush has told friends that Bolten's first assignment will be to come up with an exit strategy for getting 80% of American troops out of Iraq by September 1." LINK
The major shake-up and its changes come just in time for the White House, since House and Senate Democrats target what they call President Bush's "dangerous incompetence" on security issues while proposing what they call a "tough and smart" alternative at a 1:00 pm ET press conference at Union Station in Washington, DC.
President Bush meets with Nigerian President at 9:30 am ET; he delivers remarks to a Freedom House meeting at 12:50 pm ET; and he departs for Cancun, Mexico at 4:10 pm ET. Just in time for this morning's meeting, the Nigerian police have announced that Charles Taylor has been arrested at Nigeria's southern border with Cameroon.
Vice President Cheney is expected to make remarks at the 62nd Annual Radio-Television Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington, DC this evening.
Jack Abramoff's finds out today whether his pleas for leniency will be heeded. But he won't be going to prison immediately and could win future sentence reductions by cooperating in a Washington corruption investigation, the AP's Curt Anderson reports. LINK
After an hour of morning business beginning, the Senate resumes consideration of lobbying and ethics overhaul legislation (S 2349) at 10:30 am ET. Roll call votes are expected in the afternoon.
The House meets to consider the College Access and Opportunity Act of 2005 and the Online Freedom of Speech Act at 10:00 am ET.
Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) discusses "A Better Bargain: Overhauling Teacher Collective Bargaining for the 21sst Century" at 2:15 pm ET at the American Enterprise Institute.
Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-A) attends the GOP Lincoln-Reagan dinner in Manchester, NH.
Karen Hughes speaks at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston, TX.
The US Chamber of Commerce holds a discussion with Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) on comprehensive immigration reform at 9:30 am ET in Washington, DC.
Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta holds a 10:00 am ET press conference to announce new fuel standards for sport utility vehicles, light trucks, and minivans in Baltimore, MD.
RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman keynotes the Pueblo Lincoln Day Dinner in Pueblo, CO this evening.
"Real Plans for Real People":
Without any levers of power to pull to actually affect policy and prove their mettle, Democrats might be in a position to hope Americans are disaffected enough by President Bush's policies to succeed at simply stating as fact that they can keep Americans safer.
According to excerpts of their planned remarks cunningly obtained by ABC News, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are expected to cast the Democratic approach as tough, strong, and smart.
"Democrats understand that nothing we do is more important than protecting our country," Sen. Reid is expected to say. "We're all uniting behind a national security agenda that is tough and smart, an agenda that will provide the real security George Bush has promised but failed to deliver."
Rep. Pelosi is expected to say: "Today, Democrats have set forth an agenda that offers a new direction, one that is strong and smart, which understands the challenges America faces in a post 9/11 world, and one that demonstrates that Democrats are the party of real national security."
And Republicans are not wasting a moment in their somewhat defensive but typically aggressive response.
"House Republicans will continue to do what is right to protect American families and prevent a tragedy like September 11th from occurring ever again," House Speaker Dennis Hastert is expected to say in a press release to be issued later today. According to excerpts obtained by ABC News, Hastert then cites Democratic opposition to border security, REAL ID, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, and the renewal of the Patriot Act as evidence that the Democratic Party is not the party of real security.
Sen. John Cornyn's (R-TX) pre-buttal: LINK
Democrats are expected to call for spending more on: (1) Special Operations forces, (2) interdicting terrorist financing, (3) promoting economic development in the Middle East and South Asia, (4) screening containers at ports, (5) securing nuclear and chemical plants, and (6) training emergency health workers.
Democrats will also call for (1) strengthening the office of National Intelligence Director, and (2) investigating accusations of detainee abuse and torture
On the contentious issue of Iraq, Democrats will call for making sure 2006 is "a year of significant transition to full Iraq sovereignty, with the Iraqis assuming primary responsibility for securing and governing their country and with the responsible redeployment of US forces."
But beyond the vague reference to "responsible redeployment," the Democrats will avoid saying when all US forces should be out of Iraq.
Joining Sen. Reid and Rep. Pelosi at today's event will be Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Gen. Wesley Clark, and many other House and Senate Democrats.
Today's security rollout is the Democrats' second major policy rollout. The first installment, "Honest Leadership," was presented in January. Today's event will be dubbed "Real Security." Three more agenda rollouts are planned before November: "Economic and Retirement Security," "Affordable Health Care for All," and "Educational Excellence."
In a memo sent to Senate Democratic offices yesterday, the Senate Democratic Communications Center (SDCC) acknowledges that national defense has not been a Democratic strong suit.
"For years," writes the SDCC, "Democrats have led Republicans on all the major indicators of national policy -- except national defense. That remains true this year -- Democrats are leading on everything from honest leadership to the economy, health care, education and retirement security. And, we have closed the gap on national security."
The SDCC argues that by marshalling "the same party unity that defeated President Bush's Social Security privatization scheme, defeated the nuclear option, forced a real investigation into intelligence manipulation and brought ethics reform to the Senate floor," Democrats can "successfully remove this sole remaining support for Republicans and at the same time offer a new direction to better protect the American people."
In a Monday prebuttal of today's "real security" roll out, the RNC attacked the Democrats' "real security" rollout as being "full of Dem hypocrisy."
The New York Times preview: LINK
Bolten succeeds Card:
For the most part, coverage of Josh Bolten's ascension as White House chief of staff has been fairly restrained.
Mary Matalin made the morning show rounds.
On "Good Morning America," she said, "This is not a cosmetic change." She touted Bolten's experience and said that he can be seen as the "grey-beard" that the Chattering Class is looking for, even if he does come from within the Administration.
On CBS, Matalin said that the change is "not cosmetic." Asked if she is aware of any changes in the future, Matalin said that the President is giving Bolten a free hand, and that both men will do what it takes "to get the mojo back." She also called Bolten an awesome rocker.
Perhaps reading too much into yesterday's staff change, Jim VandeHei interprets Tuesday's move as a nod to conventional Washington wisdom a step away from the cowboy swagger that characterized Bush's first five years in the White House. LINK
The Houston Chronicle's Julie Mason writes up reactions to the Card/Bolten "shuffle," not "shake-up". LINK
Newsweek's Richard Wolffe and Holly Bailey Note that Card initially offered his resignation the same day that the Dubai ports deal finally collapsed and DP World agreed to sell its US operation. They also write that Card "didn't want to go," but that he believed he "needed to go." LINK
The Boston Globe writes that Card gave his resignation to the President several times before it was finally accepted. LINK
David Sanger of the New York Times writes the Card departure and Bolten appointment are not likely to satisfy Republican calls for a shake-up, but "signaled a possible start to achieving those ends." LINK
Chicago Tribune's Mark Silva calls Card's departure "only a small step" and says that "the swap of Bolten for Card, replacing one loyal insider with another, falls short of the bold stroke that some second-term presidents have made." LINK
Peter Baker's Washington Post profile has Rove re: Bolten LINK
Roll Call's Pershing and Billings have more reaction to the chief of staff adjustment, which Sens. Trent Lott (R-MS) and John Sununu (R-NH) carefully Note is, "not a change."
A senior official tells the Washington Post at least two more top administration officials will be leaving by early summer. LINK
The Washington Post on the fine line between Chief of Staff and First Friend. LINK
The Boston Herald Notes on Bay State resident, Andy Card's departure. LINK
Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times repurposes some of her excellent 2003 Bolten profile and adds that the incoming chief of staff has been to dinner at Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn's home and has "regularly dated women in the Bush administration." LINK
"He has a longtime girlfriend, but you know who he brings to White House events? His mother. You can always judge a man by how he treats his mother," said Mary Matalin on morning television.
The Wall Street Journal looks at Bolten's "bigger voice." The Journal's Washington Wire speculates about a possible gubernatorial run in Massachusetts in Andy Card's future. LINK
The Hill's editorial board weighs in on Andy Card's departure and is optimistic about "signs of new thinking" in the White House. LINK
"Card's replacement by Bolten, Bush's new readiness to listen to Congress and a new willingness to sit down and talk with reporters all suggest an understanding in the White House that the president needs to get a grip on the political agenda. What he is doing is necessary; it is not yet clear whether it is also sufficient."
Note Note: do y'all realize how much of his life Andy Card has spent talking to MOCs in the last five and a half years??!!???
The Washington Times' Joseph Curl reminisces about Andy Card's time at the White House. LINK
If you'd like to rule the office as today's master of Chief of Staff trivia, click here: LINK
USA Today has more on the rock angle. LINK
New York Post headline: "Folding His Card" LINK
New York Daily News headline: "Card Shuffling" LINK
Politics of immigration:
Whether or not Sen. Frist enforces Speaker Hastert's "majority of the majority" on his side of the Capitol remains to be seen, but the immigration debate roiling the Republican Party will be on display in the Senate today.
Rachel Swarns of the New York Times offers a news analysis looking at the House and Senate GOP split on immigration and the demographic trends driving the debate. LINK
Carl Hulse of the New York Times looks at the newsier divide within the Senate GOP and Sen. Frist's declaration that the Judiciary Committee bill "went too far." LINK
The New York Daily News reports Sen. Allen's remarks criticizing the Judiciary Committee bill for "reward[ing] illegal behavior." LINK
In his interview with CNN en Espanol yesterday, President Bush endorsed a guest worker program and knocked the proposal in the House bill to fence off part of the Texas-Mexico border, writes Gebe Martinez of the Houston Chronicle. LINK
The Boston Globe's Rick Klein on Sen. Frist's push to introduce his own immigration legislation and scrap this weeks legislative efforts. LINK
The Washington Times sees Leader Boehner backing down on amnesty. LINK
An Los Angeles Times' piece on Spanish-language talk radio details the role alternative media (think myspace.com) had in organizing the protests across California. LINK
The Washington Post reports on the latest intra-party squabble to hit the GOP: what, if anything, to do about immigration. LINK
John and Jerry:
The News and Advance of Lynchburg, VA cryptically reported yesterday that the Rev. Jerry Falwell "said McCain," who is speaking at Liberty University's May 14 graduation, "has expressed a willingness to support a Federal Marriage Amendment, an issue dear to conservative Christians." LINK
This report caught our attention since McCain had sharply denounced a federal marriage amendment in 2004, calling it "antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans" because of the way it "usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them."
ABC News' Teddy Davis caught up with the Rev. Falwell on Tuesday and was told that McCain is not pushing for a federal constitutional ban on gay marriage at this time. Instead, McCain "reconfirmed" to Falwell during a recent telephone conversation that he would support a federal marriage amendment if the federal courts were to strike down state constitutional bans on gay marriage (like the one McCain is currently backing in his home state of Arizona).
"I think he is genuinely a state's righter — and so am I," Falwell told ABC News. LINK
Despite McCain's 2000 push to change the GOP platform to explicitly recognize exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother, Falwell said he and "most of the pro-life community" are "happy" with McCain's "pro-life views."
The Arizona Daily Star is quick to run an AP write-up of Sen. McCain's upcoming speech at Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. LINK
Time blogger Andrew Sullivan is dismayed by McCain's embrace of Falwell and yearns for the McCain who once denounced Falwell as one of America's "agents of intolerance." LINK
Politics of Iraq:
The New York Times reports that Ambassador Khalilzad delivered a personal message from President Bush to Shiite officials indicating he does not want Ibrahim al-Jaafari to be Iraq's prime minister when a government is formed. LINK
The DSCC continues its whack-a-mole game with Sen. George Allen's (R-VA) comments about being frustrated with the pace of the Senate. DSCC executive director J.B. Poersch sent a second tongue-in-cheek letter in as many days recommending Sen. Allen for a new job. On Monday, it was NFL Commissioner. Yesterday, it was a letter to White House personnel suggesting Sen. Allen replace Josh Bolten at OMB.
The DSCC is also set to release a "Top Ten" list of jobs Sen. Allen "won't be bored doing."
"Medicare RX Benefit Help-Line Operator, Cargo Inspection at U.S. Ports, and White House Ethics Adviser," are three of the top ten.
The New York Observer Notes Sen. Clinton's need to shine in 2006 against her New York competitors, so she can boldly stand out in 2008. LINK
Perhaps this is one way in which Bill Clinton can garner favorable news coverage around the country for his wife's potential presidential campaign. (We kid!) The New York Sun's Josh Gerstein on a Clinton-advised investment group's effort to purchase 12 Knight-Ridder newspapers: LINK
The Des Moines register has Gov. Tom Vilsack saying that Bush's budget proposal would hurt poor Iowa residents. LINK
The Senate will vote today on whatever's left of a lobbying reform bill after restrictions on earmarks and the use of corporate jets were scrapped last night, reports Roll Call's Tory Newmyer.
The Washington Times previews the upcoming Senate powwow on the lobby reform bill, set to start today. LINK
The Senate continues to look over lobbying reform legislation, which includes Internet disclosures and limits on lobbying comps, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Alexander Bolton of The Hill takes a look at the strange alliance between Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Sen. Barak Obama (D-IL) on lobbying reform amendments. LINK
Five House Republicans are set to "use every opportunity" to pass legislation against 527 groups, writes Elana Schor of The Hill. LINK
Chicago Tribune's Jeff Zeleny writes up Lane Evans' (D-IL) retirement and gives us a list of possible successors. LINK
William March of the Tampa Tribune writes up the new Florida poll, which shows Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) maintaining the 15 points lag behind Sen. Nelson (D-FL). LINK
The Granite State continues its battle to be first-in-the-nation, the Union Leader reports. LINK
The Houston Chronicle's Samantha Levine has Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) telling Values Voters there will always has been and always will be a "War on Christians" in America. LINK
Carrie Sheffield of The Hill writes up "God-appointed" Tom DeLay's participation at the "War on Christians" conference yesterday. LINK
Attention TV bookers: LINK