Belatedly, here is my full take on the "shake-up" at the White House: It's a good thing that there is a mild, evolutionary change there, and it would have been bad if there had either been no change or a huge, revolutionary change. (The Post, by the way, used the evolutionary/revolutionary contrast in its headline, but I had already used it in my interview with the Post's Peter Baker and other interviews yesterday.) Andy Card was not the problem, but having him step aside, after good and faithful service, might be the beginning of solving the problem. Aside from Card's rumored responsibility (in large part) for the Miers nomination fiasco, I know of no other reason to believe that he was anything other than an honest broker who was well organized (although EVERYBODY'S competence was called into question by Katrina) and well liked.
The Spectacle Blog
The estimable Peter Baker of the Washington Post is a very solid reporter, but a story today on Andy Card stepping down, to which he contributed, had the effect of misrepresenting what I said. The problem is in the first line of the paragraph: Some conservatives are glad to see Card go. Quin Hillyer, executive editor of the American Spectator magazine, offered a "friendly good riddance" to the chief of staff. "This White House is justly criticized for its insularity, and this little bit of shake-up may help break up that insularity just a little," he said. "Without saying anything bad about Andy Card, it's a good opportunity for the White House to get a new start."
Behold Sir Tom Jones. As a song like "Sex Bomb" seems an increasingly quaint and embarrassing relic, so too does the title bestowed now upon the man who belted it. In Britain, pop celebrity has been the tube feed in the monarchy since "Goodbye England's Rose" (turn speakers on). How long, in America, until celebrity itself needs life support? Not-quite-celebrity writer Kurt Andersen considers; I counter-consider here.
If you had any doubts that the Specter-McCain-Graham bill creates and amnesty for illegal aliens, listen how carefully its namesakes are parsing their words in support. And listen to the NYT editorial of today that says, of course it's not amnesty. And then goes on to show how it is.
No matter how many smoke grenades Mr. McCain tosses - his arguments on tv have degenerated to "I can read the dictionary, and this isn't amnesty by that definition" - he never address the main point. Illegal aliens now here are made qualified for US citizenship by this awful, destructive bill. No matter how many puffs of powder or coats of lipstick you put on this pig, it's still a pig.
I just heard Chris Burns reporting from Paris on the vainglorious student protests for CNN. Burns fawning reportage suggests he's gone native and may start chucking rocks at French police himself at any moment, but this bit caught my eye in particular.
[French businesses] want to see someone proving their worth. However, I guess, if you put your mind in some of these youth's minds…they study very hard for very long. They have a degree. And they would like to get a job. They would like to get a job with security. And what is being offered to them is a low-wage job with absolutely no security, no guarantee. The boss can fire them no questions asked in the first two years of that contract. That's absolutely outrageous to a lot of these students who think it's just an insult.
Which is worse for the rule of law: protesters who hurl rocks at cops or protesters who storm the freeways? L.A. and Paris have themselves a competition: is it easier for the USA to control its borders than for France to step an inch toward at-will contracts? The non spirit has gone establishment. The lesson to us -- face your problems before it's too late, I think.
I'm late for a meeting, but word just came that the great Caspar Weinberger, Reagan's Defense Secretary, has died as well. I'll write more on him later, but for now I'll just say: His was a life well lived. The United States is in his debt. What a terrific man.
We'll have more on this later today, I feel certain, but for now please let me put in my two cents mourning the death of, but celebrating the life of, loyal Reaganite and world-class character Lyn Nofziger. What a true conservative, what a wonderfully un-egotistical, what an approachable and authentic and principled man he was! As a college student in the early/mid 1980s I attended the Conservative Political Action Conference three straight years and always thought one of the highlights each year was whatever panel Nofziger sat on. He never pulled punches, never trimmed his sails, always gave his opinions unvarnished. He was entertaining, funny, irreverent, delightful. And later on he wrote a few western novels; I read the first one of them just two years ago. "Tackett," it was called, and it was simple and fun, a great bit of old-fashioned storytelling. Tackett was a good man, and so was the author who created his exploits. May he rest in peace, as he rests always in our highest esteem.
I heard news of Andy Card's resignation on NPR as I drove in. The commentator (Nina Totenberg, I think) promised more on "the shakeup" later in the day.
A shakeup? Not so fast. He's been there five years. He's reported to only sleep five or so hours a night. For any mortal, this is overdue. A shakeup would be welcome (especially in the Communications Office -- ahem!), but one tired guy resigning does not a shakeup make.