Pink Slips at the White House

Oh, the heads are starting to roll in the White House, with White House Press Scott McLellan announcing his retirement and multifront political/policy advisor -- and anchor -- Karl Rove losing one of his titles, just to focus on politics, they tell us. Here's some of what commentators and bloggers have said about the White House shakeup.

Former White House advisor Sidney Blumenthal's epitaph on McClellan's grave was merciless: "The resignation of the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, is an event of almost complete insignificance except insofar as the beleaguered White House presents it as an important change. … McClellan is a flea on the windshield of history. Inside the Bush White House, he was a nonplayer, a factotum, the instrument of Karl Rove, Bush's chief political strategist and deputy chief of staff. McClellan played no part in the inner councils of state. … He was a vessel for his masters, did whatever he was told, put out disinformation without objection and was willing to defend any travesty. He is the ultimate dispensable man."

The Nation's John Nichols snapped a sharp whip on McLellan's resignation as well:

"White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan could not resist adding a little irony to the session where it was announced that he was being fired -- er, stepping down -- as the chief spinner for the Bush administration. 'You have accomplished a lot over the last several years with this team,' McClellan said to President Bush.

"Yes, the team has accomplished so much that it is being systematically dismantled by new White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten at breakneck speed. With public support for the president's agenda dipping to Nixon-in-Watergate lows, and with even the Republican Congress breaking with the White House on major issues, Bolten -- who replaced ousted Chief of Staff Andy Card -- seems to have determined that the administration might need a new team.

"In addition to McClellan's exit Wednesday morning, Karl Rove was edged out of his position as deputy White House chief of staff for policy development. Rove's being delegated back to his old job of managing Republican campaigns from within the White House and at taxpayer expense.

What next for the old team that helped the president "accomplish" a 33 percent job approval rating? Let's just say that Treasury Secretary John Snow may not be launching any new projects."

The blog The Political Pit Bull has a "memories of Scott McLellan" video assembled:

"It's been almost three years since McClellan took a job that requires dealing with some of the most belligerent members of the media, and there have certainly been some memorable moments. Let's take a stroll down memory lane …"

DailyKos diarist karateexplosions put together a McLellan's greatest hits tribute of White House press briefing transcripts. Sample:


Q: Now that 1,000 convicts have been executed since the Supreme Court restored the death penalty, what is the president's view on capital punishment?
McClellan: The president strongly supports the death penalty, because he believes, ultimately, it helps save innocent lives. When it's administered fairly and swiftly and surely, it serves as a deterrent and it saves innocent lives. And that's why the president has been a strong supporter of it.
Now, we've also proposed a DNA initiative. The president proposed that, and we're moving forward on it to provide funding to make sure that innocent people are protected and to make sure that we can identify victims. And so that's important to keep in mind, as well.
There are a lot of rumors going around that McLellan's replacement may well be Fox News' Tony Snow, in what would be a perfectly fitting marriage of media and government.

Media Matters went back into the archives and gave evidence to show that Snow's tendency for misleading statements may make him a perfect fit as White House press secretary:
  • Snow falsely asserted that former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV said his wife, Valerie Plame, "wasn't covert for six years" before she was exposed as a CIA operative by syndicated columnist Robert Novak.


  • Snow put forward numerous falsehoods to argue that "[e]volutionary theory, like ID (intelligent design), isn't verifiable or testable. It's pure hypothesis."


  • Snow peddled the baseless Republican National Committee talking point that 2004 presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., had blamed U.S. troops for the explosives looted from the Al Qaqaa military installation following the invasion of Iraq. Snow said, "[T]he Kerry campaign is not criticizing the president here. They're criticizing our troops.


  • Snow backed Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's attacks on Kerry, falsely claiming, "[T]here has been no documentary contradiction of the Swift Boat stuff."


Evan Derkacz at AlterNet's PEEK found another damning quote from Tony Snow (here's the audio from Mike Stark of Calling All Wingnuts):
People like Jesse Jackson who have committed themselves to a view that blacks are constantly victims, have succeeded in creating in the United States the most dangerous thing that we've encountered in our lifetime; which is, an underclass that doesn't seem to be going anywhere … for Jesse Jackson to talk about white men and black women doesn't add anything to it. The only guy who's really trying to address this in an honest and straightforward way is Bill Cosby.
… You know the solution to these problems isn't to file lawsuits or have marches or do these silly things, it's to get back to the fundamentals, which is: to have intact marriages, to redevelop a work ethic, to say that crime isn't cool … Take a look at the idiotic culture of hip-hop and whaddya have? You have people glorifying failure. You have a bunch of gold-toothed hot dogs become millionaires by running around and telling everybody else that they oughtta be miserable failures and if they're really lucky maybe they can get gunned down in a diner sometime, like Eminem's old running mate.
… This is absolutely crazy … we have to see that what's going on in this country is a very quiet tragedy, because, black leaders have led … Whether they understand it or not, the black Left is leading black Americans down a blind alley.

Joshua Micah Marshall's Muckracker reports that Bush's replacement for Karl Rove as domestic policy chief, Joel Kaplan, had a hand in the fake "recount riot" that shut down the vote counting in Florida during the 2000 election:
To the Burberry ramparts!
The man Bush tapped to fill Karl Rove's spot as his policy wizard is none other than Joel Kaplan, who took part in the infamous "Brooks Brothers riot" of 2000. That's when a bunch of Washington GOP operatives, posing as outraged Floridians, waved fists, chanted "Stop the fraud!" and pounded windows in an effort to intimidate officials engaged in the Florida recount effort.
In George Bush's Washington, there's no shame in staging a fake protest to undermine a democratic election, apparently: Last year, the Washington Post's Al Kamen noted that "the "rioters" proudly note their participation on resumes and in interviews." Kaplan was even the one to cheekily dub the fracas the "Brooks Brothers Riot."
And Sidney Blumenthal, in that same commentary on McClellan, speculated on the possibility that Rove faces indictments in the Plame investigation:
Last week, on April 12, Libby counterfiled to demand extensive documents in the possession of the prosecutor. His filing, written by his lawyers, reveals that he intends to put Karl Rove on the stand as a witness to question him about his leaking of Plame's name to reporters and presumably his role in the "concerted action" against Wilson.
In his request for documents from Rove's files, Libby dropped mention of Rove's current legal status.
For months, Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, has assured the press that his client, who was believed to be vulnerable to indictment for perjury, is in the clear. But Libby insisted that he was entitled to "disclosure of such documents" in Rove's files "even if Mr. Rove remains a subject of a continuing grand jury investigation." Karl Rove is a subject of Fitzgerald's investigation -- this is the headline buried in Libby's filing.

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