(guest blog by Taylor Marsh)
As Josh Marshall said very early this morning, "where are the new faces?" Matt Stoller talks about the fake shake-up, with Jesse Berney adding his take too. The bottom line is that all this talk about White House changes so far is more about moving familiar players around, without anything dramatic being delivered from The Decider.
Frankly, I’ve got my doubts about Rove’s "demotion." For me, Bush and Rove will be tied at the hip until the latter leaves freely or by force. The bottom line is that Deadeye is still there. Donald Rumsfeld isn’t going anywhere, at least not yet, with Rove in full campaign mode, where he always does the most damage to Democrats. Remember, a cornered animal is always most dangerous: Rove’s perceived demotion, his power perceived as usurped, with him back on the campaign trail where he can give us fits, is where we now find Rove, with something to prove at this point. His president has plummeted, with investigations looming in the not too distant future if he fails. The president and Karl Rove are in "survival mode."
On that score, many people who know the administration best are privately dubious. Presidents, more than chiefs of staff, determine how White Houses operate, they said, noting that Bush has shown that he prefers a tight circle of advisers and does not welcome the advice of outsiders. As Bush put it on Monday, in asserting that he would not fire Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, "I’m the decider, and I decide what’s best."
Rove’s return to a role that closely mirrors that which he played in Bush’s first term demonstrates how much this White House has now shifted to survival mode — and how far events have pushed the president from the grand ambitions with which he opened his second term just 15 months ago.
Then, with Rove as the animating force, the president sought to engineer Republican political dominance by remaking government with such far-reaching initiatives as his plan to remake the Social Security program. Today, Social Security stands as Exhibit A of what went wrong domestically in 2005.
However, something else popped up today that really piqued my interest. Scotty’s ticked.
Evidently, McClellan doesn’t like what went down over the Plame affair and isn’t happy with some of the happenings inside the White House inner circle. Specifically, having to eat Libby’s dirt and Karl’s crap over the misinformation Scotty was sent out to spread regarding Valerie Plame. This bit of information is positively dishy delicious.
In any event, McClellan apparently has let it be known that he is a little dissatisfied with some people himself. In a later segment on "Dayside," Texas author Wayne Slater, author of Bush’s Brain, was interviewed about the news that Karl Rove would no longer be a policy adviser to Bush.
Instead of confining himself to that topic, Slater went off onto McClellan, who also is from Texas, saying, "I know for a fact back here in Texas from talking to members of the McClellan family that they weren’t very happy about what happened when Scott was sent out, they believe by Rove and Libby, to say that Rove and Libby had nothing to do with the Valerie Plame affair when in fact they were involved in some capacity. … He felt that damaged his credibility. You aren’t going to hear Scott talk about that, but that’s fact."
Why telling a lie about something like that would bother McClellan when he has told so many others is beyond me, except for the fact of that little old grand jury investigating pending out there. Was McClellan participating in the cover-up and is he under suspicion for that? Inquiring minds want to know whether Bush just wanted to remove another potential indictee from his inner circle.
Slater, who wrote Bush’s Brain has something else to say on the Rove front. He disagrees that it’s not a big deal. According to Slater, who knows the terrain by heart, the fact that Rove isn’t handling policy matters anymore is a definite power "loss." As for how that shakes out for Democrats, I’d say Mr. Rove is likely to take his fury out on us. Scorched earth, circa 2006, here we come.