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Rove Replacement Seen as Highly Partisan Go-Getter

A Tale of Two Departures

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The usually circumspect Joshua B. Bolten, the White House chief of staff, seemed to confirm last week, in a backhanded way, that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales received a push out the door as he resigned last month.

In an interview on PBS's "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer" last week, Bolten was asked whether he convinced Bush that Gonzales had to go. "I think Alberto came to the realization that, as unfair as the attacks on him over the last several months have been, that at some point you need to let that unfairness, in a sense, stand, and step aside for the good of the department," Bolten replied.

So did a similar circumstance lead to Rove's departure? Lehrer asked.

"That was completely up to Karl," Bolten said. "All of us at the White House would have loved to have had him stay and continue to contribute in the way he does, because he's a brilliant character, but everybody also accepted that this was the time in his life to move on."

Happy (Early) New Year

There was quizzical reaction around town among the president's Jewish friends and supporters after the White House sent out Bush's official Rosh Hashanah greetings on Sept. 5 -- one week before the start of the Jewish New Year. Onetime Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, who, like Bolten, is Jewish, sent Bolten an e-mail asking why the White House had seemingly flubbed the date.

Bush spokesman Tony Fratto said the White House typically sends out such greetings four to seven days before the actual holiday, so that churches and synagogues have an opportunity to print them in their newsletters.

"What's interesting is that this is the first time I've been here for Rosh Hashanah, and I've heard about the 'early release' from a few people," Fratto said by e-mail. "I don't remember anyone calling about an 'early message' for Easter, Christmas, 4th of July, or any other holiday message."

A Tale of Two Hires

The new book by journalist Robert Draper, "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush," is attracting a lot of attention inside and outside the White House for the unusual access granted its author, a national correspondent for GQ magazine. There are a host of curious little details sprinkled throughout, such as the purported reaction from the president to Bolten's obsessive wooing of Goldman Sachs chief Henry Paulson to become Treasury secretary.

Bolten asked Bush to turn on the charm, which the president did but with some reluctance. "He should be begging me!" Bush snapped.

Draper also writes that Bolten first approached Donald Rumsfeld's old press secretary Torie Clarke about becoming White House press secretary after Scott McClellan quit in 2006. Clarke purportedly told Bolten she would rather commit suicide. The chief of staff then turned to Snow.

Snow, by the way, mangled several run-throughs -- failing to recite the White House talking points on Iraq -- but was given the job anyway, according to Draper.

Quote of the Week

Bush, addressing Australian Prime Minister John Howard at the opening of his speech to business leaders attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit:

"Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your introduction. Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit. I appreciate -- APEC summit. He invited me to the OPEC summit next year."


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