by Matt Stoller, Thu Apr 20, 2006 at 07:10:17 AM EDT
Let's review something very basic about this 'shake-up'.
Donald Rumsfeld - still in place
Dick Cheney - still in place
Steven Hadley - still in place
Karl Rove - still in place
This part of a Dan Balz article says it best.
Presidents, more than chiefs of staff, determine how White Houses operate, they said, noting that Bush has shown that he prefers a tight circle of advisers and does not welcome the advice of outsiders. As Bush put it on Monday, in asserting that he would not fire Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, "I'm the decider, and I decide what's best."
Tim Russert had an important nugget yesterday, when a source told him why Bush wouldn't fire Rumsfeld. Bush, his source says, "won't fire Rumsfeld because it would be the equivalent of firing himself."
Bush has a very good campaign mind, but as President he is completely paralyzed by his arrogance, fear, and personal weakness. He likes feeling like he makes big decisions and has 'the vision thing' (as another Bush once put it), so power rests with infighting advisors who tell him what to do in the guise of 'taking care of the details'. All problems are ascribed to as ones of 'communications' as the AM talk radio circuit has been spewing for months, which allows blame to go to the communications staff instead of those with the real power. That's why Scott and Card don't matter; Scott is a press release shaped like a human (nothing really changed when Ari Fleischer left), while Card was a glorified office manager. The Rove 'demotion' is in all likelihood a sham, since he's kept his security clearance and is gearing up for the midterms. The only serious member of the White House to leave is actually Scooter Libby, and that wasn't Bush's doing.
This is an awful situation. We have a man frightened to be President clinging desperately to the comforting adults who tell him what to do. These 'adults' happen to be vicious ideologues bent showing the world their manliness no matter how weak they transparently are. In other words, this isn't a real shake-up, because at this point Bush can't shake up the White House staff.
It reminds me of a punch-drunk boxer, who is standing because his legs are working and who won't go down because the connection between his legs and his brain is temporarily gone. It's an extremely dangerous situation for the world right now, with the 'fake shake-up' as PR gloss for what really is rearranging deck chairs on the Titannic.
Now, to be clear, a shake-up can happen, but it won't happen until November, 2006. That's when the American people can pick new leadership in Congress and force this weakened Presidency to change course.