The Note: Test Cases

WASHINGTON, Apr. 20

Sure, China has north of a billion people and the very future of America depends on President Bush's visit with Mr. Hu. (Insert Abbott and Costello joke here.)

But The Note can't be expected to focus on the future of the nation when we have superficia with which to concern ourselves.

For those left in the White House communications operation (and that includes you, Josh Bolten, whether you like it or not), what lessons are there to be drawn from the coverage of yesterday's test run, as you unfurl more elements of your turn-the-page-for-all-to-see "shake-up"?

News organizations whose coverage did NOT call it a "shake-up" or "part of a shake-up": The Washington Times.

News organizations whose coverage did call it a "shake up" or "part of a shake-up": Everyone else.

Opening lines from morning television reports: GMA: "This certainly is a dramatic change for Karl Rove." Today: ""White House shuffle." Early Show: "Big-time staff changes at the White House."

Most negative takes on Rove's situation: "The change. . . was widely interpreted in Washington as a step down in stature for Mr. Rove and an acknowledgment of policy failures in the last year," in the New York Times. LINK; "Shift Leaves Grand Ambitions in a Ditch," Washington Post headline after the jump. LINK; "Karl Rove bit off more than he could chew," courtesy of the Associated Press. LINK

Most positive takes on Rove's situation: "People familiar with White House operations said Rove still would be the key voice on determining the president's travel schedule and message, and they predicted that Rove personally would help raise funds for congressional candidates," in the Los Angeles Times. LINK; "Rove probably will remain one of the most influential voices in the White House," the Washington Post. LINK; "President Bush continued his midterm staff shuffle yesterday," the Washington Times (which played it on A3). ". . . calling it a shakeup might be too much -- all of the slots that have been filled were with people already in the administration, and White House officials said Mr. Rove remains as important as ever." LINK; and the upbeat Fox & Friends banter emphasized that Rove's move is "most definitely not a demotion." The deputy chief of staff was bogging down "the vision guy" with "too much paperwork."

Best Rove quote provided in a post-announcement interview: "I've got a new boss. . . who says I want you to do more of this and less of that," in the New York Times. LINK (Note to Bumiller: whatever it was you said to him to get him to go on the record, please share that with Rutenberg.)

Most negative takes on McClellan's situation: "He was painful to watch at times, gamely repeating the same stock phrases under a barrage of hostile media fire, grasping for new ways to deliver the same non-answers," the Washington Post. "But former colleagues of McClellan … say he acquitted himself well in what has become an increasingly difficult and contentious job." LINK

Most worshipful of Bolten: ". . . Bolten probably will operate more in the mold of chiefs of staffs in previous administrations, who saw their role as managing the entire White House and sought to oversee the entire federal government, as well. . ." in the Washington Post. LINK; ". . . Mr. Bolten has made clear that he rules the roost,"in the Washington Times. LINK

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