Maybe Bush Will Change…This Time
Everytime something bad happens with this administration we get new articles saying that President Bush now has some great opportunity to do…something less bad. At this point the articles almost write themselves. For example:
“The Texas mafia is leaving,” said Ron Kaufman, a longtime political advisor to the Bush family. “There’s a shift in the philosophies of the appointees you have [around the president]. They are much more creatures of Washington, D.C., and not Austin, Texas.”
But therein may lie an opportunity for Bush. In two weeks, the president has accepted the resignations of the two members of his staff who have drawn the most ire from the Democrats who now control Congress: Gonzales and political advisor Karl Rove. And that may give Bush a chance to salvage his relationship with Capitol Hill and the legacy of his second term.
“Politically, this is great for Bush,” said George C. Edwards III, a presidential scholar at Texas A&M University. “Gonzales was a source of controversy, undermining respect for the presidency and the administration.”
I used to do this too. I’d wrack my brain trying to think what the best thing for the president to do would be and then I’d write it up as a kind of advice piece. I don’t do that anymore. I try to learn from experience.
The president almost always replaces failed public servants with even more hopeless incompetents. The only exception I can think of is his replacement of Don Rumsfeld with Robert Gates. Gates has been an improvement. But think of the irony. When he was at the CIA, Gates lied to Congress during the Iran-Contra affair and was known for fixing the facts around Reagan’s policies.
Schumer recalled the experience of President Reagan, who was hobbled by the Iran-Contra controversy in his second term. Reagan revamped his presidency by shuffling his top aides and bringing in new staffers with more Washington experience.
“In 1986, Ronald Reagan’s second term, in the middle of it, he was in trouble. And what he did is he changed course. He brought in [former Tennessee Sen.] Howard Baker, he brought in a whole new bunch of people, and we had a great two years,” Schumer said. “You know, I hope George Bush takes a page from Ronald Reagan’s book.”
Bush’s one decent appointment involved appointing someone from the Iran-Contra scandal that forced Reagan to retool. And, in any case, Senator Schumer is smoking crack if he thinks we’re going to have great couple of years with the Bush administration. Here’s a more realistic assessment.
One key member of that new team was Kenneth M. Duberstein, who served as Reagan’s last chief of staff. Duberstein on Monday speculated that it might be too late to lift the Bush presidency. “The damage has already been done to Bush,” he said.