The big buzz this morning… After nearly 5 1/2 years as Bush’s Chief of Staff, Andrew Card resigned this morning. Joshua B. Bolten, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, will replace Andrew Card as of April 14 allowing a transitionary period.
The move could presage broader staff changes as Bolten takes over an operation hobbled by political problems heading into a crucial midterm election season.
Bush made the announcement in the Oval Office at 8:30 a.m., standing at the podium with Card to his right, Bolten to his left. The president thanked Card for his “wise counsel, his calm in crisis, his ability, his integrity, and his tireless commitment to public service” and said “he will always be my friend.”
Turning to Bolten, Bush described his new chief of staff as a creative thinker and a strong advocate for accountability and effective management in the federal government.
Card’s “stewardship of the Bush team” has been the subject of questions andspecultion in recent months after a series of mishaps for the Bush White House, including “the failed Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers, the bungled federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the slow public disclosure of Vice President Cheney’s shooting accident and the unexpected Republican revolt over a plan to turn over management at a half dozen ports to an Arab-owned company.”
Bush said Card had approached him earlier this month about the possibility of stepping down, and Bush accepted his offer this weekend, when the two were at Camp David.
“He’s been here 5 1/2 years. The average tenure of chief of staff is two years,” said a senior administration official, who spoke before the announcement, but refused to be named so as not to upstage the president. “Change can be good and necessary and that’s what they had discussed.”
In other Bush administration news today, the WaPo reports that Bush has recently been holding “off the record” meetings with White House reporters, in what appears to be an attempt to improve his relationship with the press or to gain more control on the spin…
Off-the-record sessions with presidents are somewhat controversial in journalism circles. Critics say reporters should not subject themselves to being influenced or “spun” under ground rules that prevent the comments from being relayed to the public. But many news organizations say the sessions give reporters a rare opportunity to observe the president up close and to gain insight into his thinking and concerns.