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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 09:02 AM Thread Starter
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The President Is Not Smiling

The Nation -- My first rule as a writer is to resist clichés, those worn but familiar phrases that creep into your prose and muddy the meaning. Sometimes, however, a cliché is too accurate to reject. In the matter of the White House staff shake-up, George W. Bush is, well, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.


Andrew Card is out, Josh Bolten is in. Washington is atwitter at this fresh start for the embattled presidency. Will the new guy take my calls? Reporters try to remember if they ever wrote anything nasty about him. And can't you see Osama pulling on his chin whiskers?

Not to worry. It's only an office shuffle. The new chief of staff brings nothing new to running the country since, as budget director, he has been there all along, contributing to the President's troubles. This diversion is a three-day story at most, before reality-based reality intrudes and overwhelms.

The President is cratering. Reality is intensifying, every day it seems. I imagine the Oval Office briefing where Card and the President bring Bolten up to speed on the latest upsets:

Last Saturday, a news leak revealed that Vladimir Putin, Bush's pal in Moscow, tipped off Saddam Hussein on the invasion plans three years ago. Probably leaked by Pentagon troublemaker--tell Rummy to seek and destroy.

Sunday, the Russian candidate wins the election in the Ukraine. Our guy finishes third. Ask Condi for update. Do we drop "Orange Revolution" from our democracy speeches? Call Vlad, concede gracefully. You got Ukraine; we got Iraq. Can this friendship be saved?

Also Sunday, American troops attack the Sadr militia at a Bagdad mosque, kill an 80-year-old Shiite imam, among others. Bush asks: Does this put us still deeper in the doo-doo--that so-called civil war? We kill Sunnis to stop them from killing Shiites, then we gotta kill some Shiites to stop them from killing Sunnis. Democracy is hard, the President says, we've known that all along.

Monday morning, the New York Times has another nasty story on a Brit memo leaked by Tony Blair's inner circle. Says Bush, back in January 2003, suggested that we could trigger the war in Iraq by painting US aircraft in United Nations blue. Then Saddam shoots down one of these "UN planes" and--bingo--our reluctant allies have to get on board for the invasion. Why is that a story? Everybody knew we were going to do invasion.

What else? Tuesday morning, gasoline prices hit $2.90 in Washington suburbs. The Senate is stuck on immigration thing, will have to trash either our right-wing frothers or the Mexicans. Looks like lose-lose. General Motors not good. "Collapse of the American auto industry" story line can hurt consumer confidence.

We need to get out in front on these. Better message, turn around bad-news stories, find some "good news" diversions. Bolten's clipboard is filled with notes. The President is not smiling. "Take care of this, will you, Josh?"

Thanks, D.

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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 09:47 AM
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RE: The President Is Not Smiling

This is all actually good news for Democrats. As long as he keeps on keeping on, the electorate is going to get more and more pissed.

Bush Opts for Continuity Over Change With Bolten as Top Aide Listen

By Catherine Dodge and Roger Simon
March 29 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush responded to sinking approval rates and criticism from within his own party by signaling he's staying the course, replacing one senior aide with another in the job of White House chief of staff.

Bush's selection of White House budget director Joshua Bolten to replace Andrew Card, both longtime advisers to the president, isn't likely to bring about significant changes in policy or political style, or have much impact on Bush's public approval ratings, according to pollsters, lawmakers and former White House officials.

The shuffling of insiders is in contrast with staff shakeups of past administrations in which outsiders were brought as chief of staff at critical periods. When the Iran-contra scandal was threatening his presidency, Ronald Reagan brought in Senator Howard Baker to replace Donald Regan; Bill Clinton tapped Leon Panetta, a veteran of Washington, to replace longtime loyalist Mack McLarty as he suffered a decline in polls.

Panetta said the switch of Bolten for Card won't by itself produce a new direction for the administration. Unless Bush is willing to shift course, Panetta said, ``all the chiefs of staff changes in the world won't change things.''

Some Republicans, such as Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, said Bush needed ``more stature'' on his staff and that more changes may be needed to right the ship. ``They need to bring in some experienced hands,'' Lott said.

Other Changes

Bush spokesman Scott McClellan wouldn't rule out other shifts at the White House. Bolten ``will have all the authority he needs'' to bring in new blood, after consulting with Bush, he said yesterday. A replacement for Bolten at the budget office will come ``as quickly as possible,'' he said.

``Josh's job is to design a White House staff that meets the needs of the president,'' Bush said in an interview yesterday with CNN Espanol. One of his most important duties ``is to make sure I get information in a timely fashion so I can make decisions.''

The appointment of Bolten, 51, won plaudits from Republicans yesterday.

``It is the familiar and it is family,'' said Kenneth Duberstein, who once served as chief of staff under Reagan. ``But it is also a different person helping Bush guide the ship of state.''

Bolten has an established relationship with many Republicans in Congress, who yesterday praised his knowledge of the issues and the way he works with lawmakers.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, called Bolten ``an excellent choice.'' Lott said Bolten already was reaching out to members of Congress.

Background in Policy

Unlike Card, Bolten has a background in working on policy as well as political matters. He is the president's longest-serving economic adviser, having left his job as a director at Goldman Sachs International in London in 2000 to tutor then-Texas Governor Bush on the economy.

As deputy chief of staff during Bush's first term, Bolten helped draw up Bush's tax cuts. He also helped successfully shepherd through Congress the president's plan to add a prescription-drug benefit under Medicare. In 2003, he took over as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

``Josh Bolten is the in-house expert on the budget, and that is the strongest area we have to take into the November election,'' said Tom Rath, a member of the Republican National Committee who maintains close ties to the administration.

The Challenge

Bolten's biggest challenge will be whether he can impose ``a much-needed change of direction'' on Bush, Panetta said.

``You have to have a good relationship with the president, but you also have to be a tough SOB to get things done,'' Panetta said. ``And that means not only being tough with the staff, but, occasionally, tough with the president.''

Over the past year Bush has suffered a series of setbacks, including the failed nomination of White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, the government's slow response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster and a Republican revolt over the administration's approval of a state-owned Dubai company taking over operations at six U.S. seaports. Bush also is losing public support for the war in Iraq, now in its fourth year.

The president's job approval rating in the most recent poll by the Gallup Organization was 37 percent, and other national surveys have shown similar results.

Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in Washington, predicted that the impact of the switch on Bush's poll numbers would be minimal.

Performance Counts

``The public doesn't know Andy Card, and hearing about one change in the White House staff, even at a very high level, isn't going to make people reconsider things,'' Kohut said. ``It's really performance that counts.''

The chief of staff is a pivotal position in the White House, setting priorities, screening appointments and often deciding what matters must be brought to the president's attention.

Card, 58, approached Bush on March 8 to suggest that he resign, and the president decided to accept it on Saturday while at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, McClellan said. He leaves the White House April 14, and Bolten takes over the job the next day.

Card served longer than any other presidential chief of staff except Sherman Adams in the Eisenhower administration, and many took his resignation as a sign he was tired from a grueling job. Card normally gets to work at 5:30 a.m. and often doesn't leave until 9 or 10 at night.

`Can't Get Away'

``These people work astonishingly long hours,'' said Craig Shirley, a Republican political consultant in Alexandria, Virginia. ``With BlackBerries and cell phones, you don't have any privacy. You can't get away from it.''

Bolten is known for putting in long hours at the budget office. The son of a CIA operative, he grew up in the Washington suburb of Bethesda, Maryland. He often rides his Harley-Davidson motorcycle in the annual Rolling Thunder event to honor Vietnam veterans on Memorial Day.

Bolten received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University in 1976 and his law degree in 1980 from Stanford Law School, where he was an editor of the Stanford Law Review. He has taught international trade at Yale Law School and also worked for the law firm of O'Melveny & Myers and the U.S. District Court of San Francisco.

In his 2003 financial disclosure filing, he reported a vacation home in Key West, Florida, worth between $500,001 and $1 million and personal savings and investments totaling at least $1.08 million.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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RE: The President Is Not Smiling

I no longer need RSS.. You guys provide me with all the news i need.

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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 10:05 AM
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RE: The President Is Not Smiling

Hey, it gets even better:

A Powerful New Voting Block Emerges; Anti-War Movement Becoming a Political Force

A new national poll shows that a near majority of voters either strongly or somewhat agree with a pledge not to vote for pro-war candidates. This makes the anti-war movement's potential impact on elections larger than pro-gun, anti-abortion, or anti-gay marriage voters. Politicians will have to pay heed to this new political force.

The pledge states:

“I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression a public position in his or her campaign.�

The national poll found that 45.9% of US voters agree – 20.1% strongly agree and 25.8% somewhat agree. Among Democrats 67.1% agreed – 33.3% strongly, 59.2% of Independents – 25.3% strongly and even 25.7% of Republicans agreed – 5.5% strongly. The poll was conducted by ICR Survey Research of Media, Pa., which also polls for ABC News, The Washington Post and many corporations and research organizations.

This poll demonstrates that anti-war voters are significant enough in size to effect the outcome of elections – if they become organized. Just like pro-gun groups have organized, pro-choice and pro-life groups have organized – now the anti-war constituency has been identified and the peace movement is ready to organize them. This will ensure that the anti-war movement will no longer be one that can be ignored.

A new group, VotersForPeace, has as its mission to educate, organize and activate voters who oppose the war. The group begins with grants totaling $1 million for 2006 and will organize voters not only to sign the pledge (you can do so at www.VotersForPeace.US), but also to influence Congress and provide voters with the information they need to understand the issues and be effective advocates.

Already many of the leading anti-war groups in the United States among them United for Peace and Justice, Peace Action, Not In Our Name, Democracy Rising, Code Pink, AfterDowningStreet and Peace Majority are participating in the effort. The anti-war movement seems poised to focus their efforts on organizing peace voters into an effective political power.

VotersFor Peace will educate voters through an ongoing web-based and print advertising campaign. In this effort the group is working across the political spectrum from the American Conservative to the Nation Magazine. The organization's goal is to organize two million voters in 2006 and five million by 2008.

Organized anti-war voters who pledge not to vote for pro-war candidates may force the Democrats in particular to develop a stronger position against the war. The Democrats may now realize that if they fail to represent the anti-war community voters will stay home or vote for alternative party and independent candidates.

Republicans are not free to ignore the anti-war constituency either. Not only do more that 25 percent of Republican voters oppose candidates who support the war, but the fastest growing group of voters – independents – overwhelmingly support the pledge. So, that all important swing voter can cause Republicans to lose elections – and could become a new source of support for Democrats – or if both parties fail to support voters wishes then candidates running independent of the two parties may find a new foundation on which to build an independent political movement.

This new politically focused effort comes at a time when the occupation of Iraq is losing public support. Only 37% of Americans believe the invasion of Iraq was worth it, 54% believe we should withdraw within a year, and only 22% believe the U.S. is sure to win (down from 79% in 2003) according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll. A CBS poll found 70 per cent of Americans think the result of the war with Iraq was not worth the loss of American life and other costs. More and more Americans agree the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a mistake. The anti-war voting block poll comes on the heels of poll by Le Moyne College and Zogby of veterans showing 72 percent favor withdrawal from Iraq within a year. And, a poll by the University of Maryland on January 31 that shows Iraqis want the U.S. to leave and 67% believe they will be better off when the U.S. leaves.

Polls show the Iraq occupation is not wanted by Iraqis or U.S. citizens, nor is it wanted by U.S. soldiers in Iraq or the foreign policy establishment in Washington, DC. This is the war nobody wants and now anti-war voters know they have the political power to end the war – as well as end the careers of politicians who support the occupation. Politicians who don't see this new electoral power coming may find themselves out of office. And, the military-industrial complex may find themselves overwhelmed by voters taking back their government and saying “no� to the permanent war economy.


Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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