For an administration that still seems to be insisting “everything’s fine,” this White House continues to hemorrhage team members.
The latest casualty is Scotty McClellan, the president’s embattled press secretary, allegedly forced out by Josh Bolten, who recently replaced the departed Andy Card as chief of staff.
Libby, Veep Cheney’s former chief of staff, was forced to resign last year after being indicted on several charges related to the Plame Affair.
Scotty was the most visible of the departed players, as he took questions from the press daily. As revelations about Bush, Rove and others rolled out in fast succession, Scotty seemed to get fatter and sweatier. At times he looked like he was ready for a breakdown. It may have been an act of mercy nudging him out of his post.
Scotty’s true role was that of a goalie. He was tasked with making sure none of the opposing team – the press – scored any factual, substantive answers about anything going on within the White House. And he was rather good at it.
Just count how many times Scotty said “ongoing investigation” about Rove’s involvement in the Plame Affair, effectively stonewalling the press indefinitely. Then there were the contradictory statements and the old trick, the changing of the subject – when faced with an unpleasant but irrefutable fact, Scotty would simply attack Democrats for “playing partisan politics.”
All told, Scotty took a lot of grillings and a lot of bullets from the press, but like a good press secretary, he never gave in and “talked.” Bush must be very proud of him indeed.
Scotty was not the real problem in the White House, and that’s why he’s on his way out. He’s a plump sacrificial lamb whose termination is designed to give the impression that after years of abuse of office Bush is now interested in “reform.”
As part of the White House staff shakeup, Karl Rove has allegedly been demoted, and will now be focusing solely on this year’s midterm elections. As the McCain Lovechild/Kerry Swiftboat mastermind has always been tasked with smearing the other guy, this is hardly a demotion. He gets to keep his security clearance, by the way.
Secretary of Defense Donald “Rummy” Rumsfeld has been criticized by many high-ranking former military officials for his gross mishandling of the Iraq war. Allegedly he’s tried to resign over this and has been turned down by Bush; this is disingenuous, as no one can stop you from quitting a job. The president seems insistent on continuing the war with “the defense secretary we have.”
Rummy’s buddy Cheney is another albatross around the president’s neck. He not only shot a friend in the face, he shot his boss in the back by overseeing the aforementioned Plame Affair. He’s continually downplayed the Iraq insurgency, even as it has blossomed, and has contradicted himself many times in his public comments.
The recent personnel changes at the White House are welcomed, but misdirected. The real people pulling the strings still have a firm grip on them. It’s time for Rove, Rummy and Cheney to resign.
As for the president, if Congress does not censure or impeach him for criminal acts done under the cover of office (and it is not likely they’ll do so), he can still do the right thing and resign, too.
Or, preferably, surrender himself to the nearest Capitol Police officer or US Marshal for arrest and prosecution.