The Corner

Barnes Recommends Surgery

In his WSJ piece today, our friend Fred Barnes prescribes what he calls a “stunning facelift” for the President’s team. Although he allows that “there would be a large element of smoke and mirrors” in his suggested changes, anxious Republicans who are convinced that the White House is too insular, arrogant and accident prone have been mentioning it all day in the hope that when such a Bush stalwart recommends a makeover the White House will listen. But Barnes makes clear that he doesn’t share the criticisms of these disaffected Bush allies. He endorses putting “old faces in new positions” (which the Administration has been doing for the past several years, e.g. Spellings, Gonzales, Rice, Bolton, Rove, and on and on) because it would give the media something new to write about. And it would: “More nervous than ever, insular as always.” It’s unlikely that replacing Cheney with Rice, and Rice with Lieberman would “thrill the base” but it sure is true that replacing Don Rumsfeld with Dick Cheney would force the media to “cover confirmation hearings.” It seems to me the column risks reinforcing the worse instincts of the current White House team by dismissing the calls for a staff shake-up as a creation of the loathed media rather than the fervent desire of some of the President’s most loyal supporters.

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