Light at the End of the Tunnel, or Is It Just Another IED?; Many West Wingtips to Fill Rove's Shoes; Vacationer-in-Chief Is No Loafer; PHOTO OP: 11:31 a.m., Aug. 13, 2007, South Lawn
Light at the End of the Tunnel, or Is It Just Another IED?
President Bush and his advisers see light at the end of the tunnel—to use a Vietnam-era phrase. Despite last week's horrendous bombings that killed as many as 400 members of an obscure religious sect in northwestern Iraq, White House officials say things are turning around in the war, and they argue that Americans are beginning to notice. "They are still apprehensive," a senior White House strategist told U.S. News, "but they are starting to see that the surge [of extra troops] has worked." Similarly, Bush advisers say the mainstream media are shifting from coverage of what's gone wrong to positive reports about military success, such as U.S. offensives against insurgents and the improved fighting skills of Iraqi troops. Heartening White House strategists is the latest CBS poll, which finds that 29 percent of Americans now believe the surge is improving the situation in Iraq, up from 19 percent a month ago. That's hardly a ringing endorsement. But White House officials say the trend is favorable.
Many West Wingtips to Fill Rove's Shoes
Karl Rove had barely announced his resignation as the White House's political architect before official Washington began speculating on how Bush would fill his shoes. West Wing denizens say Rove's portfolio was so large—on both politics and policy—and his bond with Bush so strong that several people will have to step into the vacuum. Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten is expected to gain in influence, as is Bolten's chief deputy, Joel Kaplan. Also on the rise is Ed Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and now White House counselor.
Beyond the personnel shifts, Bush's approach to governing might become a bit more realistic with Rove gone. He is being urged to push a batch of small proposals, as Bill Clinton did at the end of his second term, rather than campaign for big, polarizing ideas that Rove favored, such as overhauling Social Security and the immigration system. But the "small ball" disdained by Rove may be the only course left, now that the Democratic majority in Congress is challenging the White House at every turn and Bush's popularity is so low. "In a campaign, you destroy your opponent," Ken Duberstein, former White House chief of staff to Ronald Reagan, told U.S. News. "In governing, you try to build coalitions, and there are no permanent adversaries." On that basis, Rove's stint in the White House was a flop.
Vacationer-in-Chief Is No Loafer
Ranch update: President Bush's handlers don't want anyone to think he's loafing during his August vacation, which is entering its second week. So they are careful to report that Bush has at least a few official activities on his schedule each day, such as phone calls with foreign leaders and intelligence briefings, and he will be taking a few work trips away from his Crawford, Texas, ranch. Bush gets a bad rap from critics, who say he has taken more vacations than any other president. Not so. At the start of his latest trip to Crawford, Bush had spent 418 full or partial days at his ranch in the six years and seven months of his presidency. That pales in comparison with Lyndon Johnson's 484 days at his Texas ranch during 5
PHOTO OP: 11:31 a.m., Aug. 13, 2007, South Lawn
It was a day that both men had known would come, yet it was still filled with emotions running high. Presidential aide and confidant Karl Rove and President Bush wave to the cameras and well-wishers after Rove's surprise announcement that he plans to resign at the end of the month to spend more time with his family.
This story appears in the August 27, 2007 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.