During a recent major terrorism conference I organized, I hired a well-connected Republican consultant to help me fill out administration participation in the meeting. Considering that we were meeting amidst the Katrina disaster, my consultant did fairly well.
Apparently, both Ken Mehlman and Karl Rove were briefed about the conference — and I was told that the White House, at least Karl Rove, was well aware of the role that TWN played in helping to block the Senate’s confirmation of John Bolton as America’s Ambassador to the United Nations.
One of my unnamed friends who worked doggedly (and successfully) on President Bush’s reelection told me that my role in the Bolton fight had “been noted” by Rove, Karen Hughes and others — and that they really, really didn’t like being forced to make a recess appointment.
The reason for this preamble is that Rove allegedly stated that “Steve’s conference looks important and seems mostly balanceed. We should participate, but the price for Bolton is that he won’t get a ‘Top Dog’ but we’ll give him a strong ‘Deputy Dog.'”
Note that these comments were reported to me second hand.
The President’s Deputy Chief of Staff may be the one in the dog house now.
Karl Rove looks like he may be suffering from the same kind of cryptic commentary from folks in the White House shoving him out the door that Rove inflicted on Trent Lott when Rove asssassinated him as Senate Majority Leader.
Check out Scott McClellan’s complex, all-over-the-place response to the simple question of whether there were discussions about Karl Rove leaving White House employ.
Normally, McClellan would have just said “The President has full faith in Mr. Rove.” End of story. Full Stop.
But read yourself:
Q Can you comment on The Washington Post report that there is some considerations that Rove should be leaving the White House?
MR. McCLELLAN: A couple of things. One, there’s a lot of speculation going around at this time that relates to an ongoing investigation and an ongoing legal proceeding, and I’m not going to get into speculating about anything relating to that. You know, I will reiterate what I said the other day: there is no discussion of staff changes, beyond the usual vacancies that occur and beyond the ones we just announced relating to the vacancy that occurred in the Vice President’s Office.
And I also pointed out that it’s always the prerogative of the President to have a team in place that he feels best helps him advance his agenda and meet his needs. And we all always serve at the pleasure of the President, but that’s just speaking more broadly and that’s why I wanted to reiterate what I said the other day, that there is no discussion of staff changes, beyond typical vacancies and beyond the ones we’ve just recently filled.
Q So Rove might leave is part of a, sort of, natural staff turnover?
MR. McCLELLAN: See, this is a question trying to get me to play into all the speculation that’s going on, and I’m just not going to do that. But that’s why I reiterated the broader points that I’ve already made to you all earlier this week and those comments remain the same.
Q Well, the Post story, are you — I’m not hearing a denial here.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I’m telling you I’m not going to get into all the speculation. Karl Rove is the Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to the President. He continues to carry out his duties. But that’s why I pointed out that, in terms of the question came up in the context of any discussion of staff changes, and that’s why I reiterated what I said earlier.
Q Any discussion of an apology by him to staff?
MR. McCLELLAN: I’ve already addressed that question; I don’t have anything else to add to it.
These are interesting times. It’s hard to imagine George Bush without Karl Rove at his side. But something tells me that if Rove loses his spot as Deputy Chief of Staff, the President won’t have to worry. He’ll still be there, just a phone call away.
— Steve Clemons
Ed. note: I tried to link to White House press briefings site, but the press gaggle with McClellan is showing an error page. You might try this link later.