At the White House, another official with special status -- a long friendship with the president's eldest son, George W. Bush -- is looking for a new job after a rocky 19 months of clashes.
Doug Wead, special assistant to the president for public liaison, said yesterday he had been told by Deputy White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card that he should leave "sooner rather than later."
Wead said he was not given any substantive reason, but acknowledged that a letter he wrote about gay rights activists attending a White House ceremony "did not make a lot of people happy, and some thought I was too much favoring the constituencies I dealt with."
Wead's portfolio included being the White House contact with conservative groups, religious groups and "special interests." An evangelical Christian, Wead helped organize that constituency for Bush in the 1988 campaign.
White House officials have been mumbling for months that Wead was too "independent" and too likely to pursue his own course, a sin in the Bush White House. The final straw, officials said, was Wead's outrage when representatives of the gay community were invited to the signing ceremony for the "hate crimes" law, which lists attacks on homosexuals as hate crimes.
David Demarest, Wead's boss, said representatives of the gay community were invited because they were part of a coalition that got the legislation passed.
Wead's view was that gays had no place at the White House and that officials higher than he made a mistake. He offered that view, in a May 14 letter on White House stationery, to hundreds of conservatives who complained. "Quite frankly," Wead wrote, "the President's staff did not serve him well. . . . "
Wead said he had sought and been granted an audience with the president today. Asked if the president's son arranged it, he said, "I talk to George almost every day."