The New York Times says this morning that there's "fear and moaning" at the White House as presidential aides await whatever Josh Bolten has planned for them. "Aides are on edge," Elisabeth Bumiller writes, because Bolten has promised that there will be more housecleaning this week.
Of course, there's one man under the president who probably isn't on edge. Even if Bush and his new chief of staff wanted to dump Dick Cheney, they couldn't, at least not without the vice president's consent. And by the Los Angeles Times' way of thinking, that's too bad. In an editorial over the weekend, the Times says that any serious remaking of the Bush White House should include Cheney's departure.
Yes, the Times says, the president should begin by canning Donald Rumsfeld -- "not because he has been criticized by a group of retired generals but because he embodies the smugness and inability to acknowledge error that has characterized both the Iraq war and the wider war on terrorism." But if the president wants to show the sort of "bold" and "audacious" steps that would signal he's ready to turn around his presidency -- and we haven't seen any signs of that yet -- the Times says that he shouldn't stop at the Pentagon. "Throwing Cheney overboard would be an implicit repudiation of the excessively hawkish foreign policy with which the vice president, even more than Rumsfeld, has been associated," the Times says.
"The truth is that the president, however grudgingly, has recognized that he and the administration made mistakes in the run-up to the war in Iraq and in its aftermath. He has not confessed that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake, but he has acknowledged with increasing explicitness that he was wrong to believe that Saddam Hussein harbored weapons of mass destruction.
"No longer proclaiming 'mission accomplished,' Bush has been pursuing a sadder-but-wiser policy in Iraq that many Democrats also endorse. It involves ramping up the training of Iraqi troops to take over from U.S. forces while leaning on Iraq's feuding sects to join, however unenthusiastically, in a government of national unity.
"Having changed his tune, the president should also think about changing the company he keeps big time, as Dick Cheney would say."