October 31, 2005


A Time to Regroup: Bloodied by scandal, setbacks and casualties, Bush is looking for fresh troops and a new battle plan (NANCY GIBBS, MIKE ALLEN, 10/30/05, TIME)

The year's successes--an energy bill, the highway bill, bankruptcy reform, a free-trade agreement--all came before the Category 5 bad news of the fall. But a well-received court nominee could help Bush turn the corner. He will be traveling to South America and Asia before the holidays, which is why the White House road map to recovery starts in earnest in January. "It is fundamentally a question of reconnecting with the American people," says a senior member of the Bush team. "One of the good things about being President of the United States is that even when you're down, you have the ability to control your own destiny through the bully pulpit."

Bush officials are literally going back and reading his campaign speeches. Aides say they have a "back-to-basics" strategy focusing on such traditional Republican issues as spending restraint. As part of the search for a fresh agenda, groups of Bush aides are working on new immigration and tax-reform policies for possible rollout. But immigration is an issue that splits the party's base, and the recommendations of Bush's tax-reform commission, most notably doing away with the mortgage-interest deduction, are universally viewed as a nonstarter. To try to lower energy prices, the White House is considering taking steps--legislative, diplomatic or jawboning. But in a global economy, getting prices down is easier said than done.

As for a shift in the lineup, Card could be named Treasury Secretary by the beginning of the year. Among his possible replacements are White House budget director Joshua Bolten, former Montana Governor Marc Racicot and deputy budget director Clay Johnson III. An adviser says the personnel shifts will be gradual: "They don't want to communicate panic because they're not panicked."

In a global economy prices fall regardless of anbything you do, but pretending you caused the drop is good politics.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 31, 2005 11:09 AM

If the Palme thing really is in the rear view mirror ( a big if) then this is quite doable. I suspect Clay Johnson will get the nod to replace Card.

Posted by: JAB at October 31, 2005 11:38 AM

Replace Scott McClellan with John Hinderaker of Powerline. He has waded through all the inaccurate reporting and will demand the record be set straight.

Posted by: Melissa at October 31, 2005 11:53 AM

Send Andy Card home. Let him rest.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 31, 2005 12:32 PM

I respect President Bush (v2.0) greatly. I think he may be ranked eventually in the very first tier of Presidents. However, his biggest weakness is ommunicating and advancing his agenda and rationale for decisions with the American people on a day-to-day basis. I realize the media is somewhat responsible for this but many of his problems are partly self-inflicted.

Posted by: Rick T. at October 31, 2005 1:43 PM

Rick, You're right. Bush needs a personable articulate guy as his spokeperson, an uber-self-confident type who smiles while he brushes off the dorks and keeps the questions on topic. Alas, I have no suggestions.

Posted by: tefta at October 31, 2005 2:01 PM

Dennis Miller

Posted by: Gideon at October 31, 2005 2:20 PM

McClellan is very bad. Spectacularly bad. Nearly anyone would be better.

Posted by: Bob at October 31, 2005 3:49 PM

Ann Coulter has said she would do it for free. So, I think, did Laura Ingraham. I'm sure other conservatives and libertarians (like Neal Boortz) would also enjoy it, for a day.

Posted by: ratbert at October 31, 2005 4:12 PM

If Bush wants a loose canon as press spokesman, no need to go for Coulter or Ingraham. Just hire McClellan's mother.

Posted by: John at October 31, 2005 8:01 PM

When we tally up the successes, don't forget the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. The people who care won't forget.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 31, 2005 10:33 PM

I would make an excellent press secretary. For starters, I would make that camel's hump Helen Thomas wear a saddle. No one untruth, no matter how true, would go unchallenged.

Posted by: Bagdhad Bob at November 1, 2005 1:20 AM