Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Josh Bolten replaces Andy Card as Chief of Staff

We gave a quick blurb about Andy Card yesterday when his resignation was announced and said that those who felt the resignation was part of a shake up in the administration were wistfully ignorant (Thanks to Real Clear Politics for the link. I haven't had this much traffic since I put up a pic of Jessica Simpson in Daisy Dukes back when they were shooting Dukes of Hazzard).

Now MSNBC has a nice little hatchet job on Bush/biography of Josh Bolten, which paints him to be just as big a part of Dubya's inner circle as Card, if not more so. Ignore the lame analogies to a frat house and the mob

Bolten had a sterling pedigree. His father had worked at the CIA, which Bush the Elder had once run. He’d worked on the Hill for the Senate Finance Committee, the cockpit of Republican economics. A young staffer in the Bush One administration, Bolten had impressed all the right people -– especially fellow Princeton alumnus (and lifelong Bush Family advisor) James A. Baker. Then Bolten had bolted: jetting off to London to make a pile at Goldman Sachs.

Now Bolten was ready for the Job With Big Potential, and Bush, on the advice of his father‘s circle as well as his own inner circle, was reaching out to him. On paper, all well and good. But would the two men hit it off? Bush wouldn’t want a tutor/advisor he couldn’t stand.

It was a late-night walk through the street of Austin, Texas, that secured the job. The night before his job interview, Bolten had dinner, and then, to get some air and his bearings, had gone out for a stroll -– and eventually found himself (as is easy to do in Austin) in a rough part of town. He ended up having coffee at a diner with down-on-their-luck types, listening to their stories and encouraged them to try to get their personal acts together.

Bolten recounted his itinerary the next day to Bush, who was charmed by the Victorian earnestness -– and innocence -– of the story. Now here, Bush evidently thought, was the guy to devise the mechanics of the “compassionate conservative” principles around which he and Rove were building the campaign.

Bolten at that moment became a Made Man in the Bush Family, and has been one ever since. Ironically (Bush’s critics would say, not surprisingly), as Budget Director Bolten has presided over the production of some of the biggest federal deficits in history, and Bush has tried to put the clamps on social-welfare spending in ways that most Democrats find less than compassionate.

And all along Bolten has been just what Bush wanted: loyal, discreet, self-effacing -– and funny and cool: a guy who plays in a rock band, who has a penchant for motor cycles, and who doesn’t mind being seen at dinner parties with movie stars.

Though he has a taste for show biz, Bolten hasn’t been eager for the spotlight. Now he will be in the glare full time. He is going to have to bring in new staff -– a new director of the OMB, for starters. Some will call it all a “shakeup.”

Infantile jabs aside, it paints a familiar picture. "Loyal, discreet, self-effacing -– and funny and cool" could describe Dick Cheney (cool in the Texas likes to go hunting way), Condi Rice (come on, she wants to be NFL commissioner), and even the President himself. I'm sure I'll get some of the wackos out there hammering me for calling the president cool, but when you see him talking with a freindly crowd like the one last week in West Virginia, he comes off like a guy you'd like to have a drink with even if he doesn't drink anymore. He has a charming, off the cuff attitude in a friendly atmosphere.

So Bolten seems cut of the same cloth as many in the administration. If you like the direction Bush is going that's a good thing, which might just mean a very bright future in politics for the lad.