The White House buried the lede today. Scott McClellan got the photo op and the shoulder squeeze from the President on the South Lawn, but everyone knew he was going soon. The real news is the wrist slap for Karl Rove, what it says about Josh Bolten and what it means for the White House and Republicans in Congress. Karl had to take a hit. With the President’s approval rating below 40% and the press and Republicans in Congress clamoring for a real change of direction from the White House, Karl couldn’t make it through the shake-up untouched. By reining Rove in publicly, Bolten is demonstrating that he’s in charge in a way that Andy Card wasn’t. He’s shrinking a job that was too big for one person anyway and freeing up Karl to do what he does best – focus on the 2006 midterms. Rove will still be running the governmental relations and public liaison shops, which means he can still put the resources of the executive branch to work for GOP candidates in the Fall. The big question: how much will those candidates want to be associated with the WH in the final weeks of the campaign? Meantime, the question everyone’s gossiping about today: who’s going to replace Scott? Lots of feelers have gone out from the WH, a strategy borne of necessity. It seems like all of the top candidates have reasons to turn the job down. Torie Clarke has done her time. Rob Nichols has a new baby and a big new job in the financial services industry. Tony Snow would be an inspired choice. He’s quick on his feet and, like Mike McCurry, can parry tough reporters with a wink and a smile. No one understands the President’s biggest challenge — Iraq — better than Dan Senor. But his new bride, Campbell Brown, is based in New York and his new business is booming. I’m betting Senor will get the job… but not much.