Signs White House Chopping Block Being Readied For Karl Rove?
If there’s too much baggage on an airplane and it’s starting to go down, what do you do with the baggage? You have to toss one out.
Even if it’s a durable designer model called Karl Rove:
Top White House aides are privately discussing the future of Karl Rove, with some expressing doubt that President Bush can move beyond the damaging CIA leak case as long as his closest political strategist remains in the administration.
If Rove stays, which colleagues say remains his intention, he may at a minimum have to issue a formal apology for misleading colleagues and the public about his role in conversations that led to the unmasking of CIA operative Valerie Plame, according to senior Republican sources familiar with White House deliberations.
EGADS! This Washington Post story suggests several possibilities. Could it mean that:
- The tight White House ship has sprung a stay-on-message leak?
- Some aides are upset because Rove is making their jobs too stressful? Could it be Press Spokesman Scott McClellan, who is to image and skill in being a press secretary what Majority Leader Bill Frist is to in image and skill in being a Majority Leader? Or, is it possibly coming from SM’s (an apt description of how McClellan must view his job at this point) associates?
- President George Bush and/or some of his top aides are now preparing the groundwork for Rove’s exit a la Harriet Miers?
No matter what, when this kind of story surfaces it usually (but not always) means one thing:
The person whom the story written about is politically dead meat.
It’s chock full of signs that KR might consider moving his office supplies and his 2005 Mark Hanna/William McKinley pinup calendar out of his office. To wit:
Bush’s top advisers are considering whether it is tenable for Rove to remain on the staff, given that Fitzgerald has already documented something that Rove and White House official spokesmen once emphatically denied — that he played a central role in discussions with journalists about Plame’s role at the CIA and her marriage to former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, a critic of the Iraq war.
“Karl does not have any real enemies in the White House, but there are a lot of people in the White House wondering how they can put this behind them if the cloud remains over Karl,” said a GOP strategist who has discussed the issue with top White House officials. “You can not have that [fresh] start as long as Karl is there.”
You have to wonder who these aides are. But one thing seems clear: they are quite sympathetic to McClellan:
A swift resolution is needed in part to ease staff tension, a number of people inside and out of the White House said. Many mid-level staffers inside have expressed frustration that press secretary Scott McClellan’s credibility was undermined by Rove, who told the spokesman that he was not involved in the leak, according to people familiar with the case.
Some aides said Rove told Bush the same thing, though little is known about the precise nature of the president’s conversations with his closest political adviser.
McClellan relayed Rove’s denial to reporters from the White House lectern in 2003, and he has not yet offered a public explanation for his inaccurate statements. “That is affecting everybody,” said a Republican who has discussed the issue with the White House. “Scott personally is really beaten down by this. Everybody I talked to talks about this.”
AHA! So we now have concerns about Karl Rove’s longevity and Scotty McClellan having a relaxing day.
And you see a split in the views of White House mouthpieces on this:
White House communications director Nicolle Wallace said that there have not been any White House meetings to discuss Rove’s fate, and that the senior adviser is actively engaged and “doing an outstanding job.” She said “there is no debate” over Rove’s future.
So you have to ask yourself: is this a not-so-gentle “Get the hell out of here already and make life easier for the rest of us!” coming from one White House faction (the group that is sick of seeing McClellan guzzle all that Tylenol at the end of the day) or from Bush advisers planting the seeds for Rove’s eventual departure?
It SOUNDS like it’s coming from one frustrated segment in the White House. The question then becomes: if that’s the case, will George Bush be pleased? And, even if that’s the case, doesn’t this story indicate Mr. Rove’s days at the White House could indeed be numbered because he’s becoming a highly controversial figure and divisive figure now within the White House itself? And, if that’s the case and he stays, what would this say about both a divided White House and its prospects the next few years?