Rearranging the Deck Chairs?

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 20, 2006; 11:06 AM

I can hardly contain my excitement.

Scottie is out! Tony might be in! Karl curtailed! Rummy still hanging around! More shakeups to come!

White House in . . . where's my favorite word in the whole journalistic lexicon . . . disarray!

When the history of the Bush presidency is written, the world may little note that Josh Bolten decided to shuffle a few staff jobs after taking over. (And here I thought it was POTUS who makes these big decisions. Not for the Delegator-in-Chief.) But for those who are paid to analyze and scrutinize the direction of the White House, it doesn't get much better than this. A new chief of staff, a new press secretary and a revised portfolio -- be still, my heart -- for the president's most powerful strategist.

All that and a Fox News host coming in, too?

Why, enterprising Beltway journalists might just be able to milk this story for weeks on end. By which time we can all go on summer vacation.

So here's the drill: We'll dip into the cosmic-significance pieces from the MSM, followed by my own carefully reported chronicle of McClellan's resignation and then dive into the blogosphere. (Hint: Liberals are near-ecstatic and conservatives are being businesslike.) Karl Rove, loyal employee? "Mr. Rove has been at Mr. Bush's side since Mr. Bush entered politics, and for years his influence has been unquestioned," says the New York Times . "The decision to take away his daily control over the White House's policy-making apparatus is the first time his role has shrunk, and it is a stark reversal from the heady aftermath of Mr. Bush's 2004 re-election victory, when Mr. Rove's portfolio was expanded to give him formal control over policy.

"In a telephone interview Wednesday night, Mr. Rove brushed aside suggestions that the change was a diminishment of his role. 'It is something different,' he said. 'I've got a new boss and a different assignment who says I want you to do more of this and less of that.' " Has Bolten told him to start returning press calls, too?

The Los Angeles Times deconstructs the Boy Wonder's role:

"Democrats expressed some pleasure that Rove's role was being cut back, suggesting it was because of his inappropriate mixing of politics and policy and the ongoing scrutiny he faces from the special prosecutor investigating the leak of the identity of former CIA operative Valerie Plame. Some of the policy areas for which Rove had responsibility -- notably Bush's effort to overhaul the Social Security program -- were considered political flops.

"But a Republican strategist familiar with White House thinking said the shift in Rove's job does not represent a diminution of the strategist's standing. The strategist said the 'principal goal' of Wednesday's personnel change was to free Rove from the responsibility of the routine details of the policy development process, allowing him to concentrate on long and short-term strategy."

Baltimore Sun : "There is little evidence, however, that the shake-up means the president is altering his approach.


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