Can the White House "Refresh and Re-engergize"?
The New York Times and Washington Post both have good coverage of new WH CoS Josh Bolten's surprisingly candid (at least for this Administration) announcement to senior staff yesterday that big changes in staffing and structure may be (stress may be) coming to the West Wing in the near future. Without asking for specific resignations yesterday, Bolten said that it was his goal to "refresh and re-energize" the White House staff, and told anyone who's thinking of departing prior to the end of 2006 to do so now.
Scott McClellan, Bush's erstwhile press secretary whose name is often on the short list of potential candidates for replacement, said yesterday that Bush has given Bolten "wide latitude" to pursue staff changes, "the full authority to do what he needs to do, and what he believes is in the best interest of this White House and this president."
The question now becomes "What will Bolten do?" Too often from this Administration we've gotten bold pledges and then no follow-up, and this could certainly be one of those moments. Bolten has a very narrow window of opportunity in these first few weeks on job to get things done, and I hope he uses it to its full advantage.
Clearly one of the major areas that needs some TLC is the Administration's liaison arm with Congress, which has been practically useless in recent months. The appointment of a "senior statesman" who's got credibility on the Hill would be a wise move on Bolten's part, as would be pushing for some Cabinet-level switcheroos (Rumsfeld being at the top of my wish list, although I suspect that is somewhat less likely than the president naming Cynthia McKinney his new press secretary).
The time is ripe for change - the public wants it, the Republicans in Congress want it, and Bolten's moment is now. Will they let it slip away? Oh, I'd say very probably.