The significance of Rove’s job change

The Washington press corps splits on what Karl Rove's job change really means.

Topics: Karl Rove, War Room,

It’s not often that the White House press corps finds itself spinning in different directions on the same story, but it’s happening now as reporters try to explain what has become of Karl Rove. Here’s where everyone agrees: The president’s chief political advisor and deputy chief of staff will no longer be in charge of day-to-day policy operations. But is that a demotion, a lifting of a burden or just a reflection of election-year realities? It depends on which media source you follow.

Elisabeth Bumiller in the New York Times: “The decision to take away [Rove's] daily control over the White House’s policy-making apparatus is the first time his role has shrunk, and it is a stark reversal from the heady aftermath of Mr. Bush’s 2004 re-election victory, when Mr. Rove’s portfolio was expanded to give him formal control over policy … The change in Mr. Rove’s responsibilities … was widely interpreted in Washington as a step down in stature for Mr. Rove and an acknowledgment of policy failures in the last year.”

Ron Fournier for the Associated Press: “Technically, it is a demotion. But in terms of real power and influence, Rove remains virtually unmatched at the White House.”

Dan Balz in the Washington Post: “Rove probably will remain one of the most influential voices in the White House, but his shift in responsibilities suggests that new White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten intends to operate a different White House than his predecessor, Andrew H. Card Jr., who resigned after more than five years at the helm.”

Peter Baker and Jim VandeHei in the Washington Post: “Among people close to the White House and in Republican circles around Washington, there remained debate whether the move should be regarded as a demotion or reassignment. The answer will remain unknown until Bolten’s operation has more time to prove itself. But there was agreement that the move was a negative verdict on the status quo.”



Tom Hamburger, Richard Simon and Ronald Brownstein in the Los Angeles Times: “. . . a Republican strategist familiar with White House thinking said the shift in Rove’s job did not represent a diminution in his standing. . . . The strategist said the ‘principal goal’ was to free Rove up so that he could concentrate on long- and short-term strategy issues, such as how to improve Bush’s image and bolster the Republican Party.”

Why the diverging views? Our guess is that the usual White House spinners are having a hard time putting a consistent gloss on the Rove story. On the one hand, Bolten wants to be seen as asserting control, and — more important — Bush needs to show that he’s taking meaningful steps to “refresh” a White House in dire need of change. On the other hand, the president isn’t one to acknowledge that things aren’t working perfectly, nor is he inclined to admit defeat through a public putdown of one of his core loyalists. See, Department of Defense, secretary of.

Our take? The change in Rove’s role is more a reflection of reality than anything else: The president’s policy agenda is going nowhere right now, and the 2006 elections are where the action is. That’s where Rove will be, again — assuming, of course, that he doesn’t find himself indicted first.

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>