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Monday, November 24, 2014
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Published: Monday, 4/24/2006

Survival mode

It is less a shake-up than a shuffle, but the White House is clearly hoping a little window dressing will strengthen its political hand. Whether public gestures of staff changes within the administration are enough to counteract its same old policies is the question.

The answer will come with the mid-term elections.

But the floundering Bush Administration had to do something now to stave off the barrage of bad news it keeps attracting.

It seems powerless to do anything to extricate U.S. troops from an escalating three-year-old war in Iraq. It seems stumped about how to exert any significant influence to push along the process of forming a new Iraqi "unity" government months after the elections.

And at home it seems unable to shake the deteriorating press coverage about its scandals, secrecy, and stalled agendas. Plus every week the administration seems to be struggling to spin the President's way out of a ratings slump, without much success.

But what the White House can do is shift key players around to suggest something new and improved is on the way.

It can get a new message delivery system started with a new press secretary after the battered and bruised Scott McClellan limps back to Texas. Let the next public face of the administration fend off the fire for awhile.

Karl Rove, the man who singlehandedly destroyed Mr. McClellan's credibility with the press, is also included in the White House overhaul. Officially Mr. Rove's duties are being curtailed by new White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten. No longer will he set policy and map political strategy - he'll concentrate on politics.

Unofficially, the party operative nicknamed by the President "the architect" for masterminding his election victories, will likely remain one of the most influential voices in the Oval Office. Maybe more so.

His forte is politics and damage control and winning with whatever it takes. Without the detail of daily policy management, Mr. Rove will be free to focus on what is crucial to the President's fortunes - the November midterms.

Meanwhile, the reshuffling to reinvigorate the President's second term will continue as Andy Card's successor attempts to change business as usual. Under new management Mr. Bolten hopes to upset the status quo, from the Cabinet to relations with Congress.

One of his first hurdles will be convincing GOP candidates that cultivating a close, personal relationship with the White House won't be held against them by voters. New window dressing might not do the trick.



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