Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Good Move

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan announced a short time ago that he is stepping down from his post. There's no word (yet) on when the resignation will become effective, but my guess is the move will happen very soon. There's already speculation about possible successors, including FNC host Tony Snow, former Pentagon spokesman Victoria Clark, and Dan Senor, former spokesman for Iraq Civil Administrator, Ambassador Paul Bremer.

Fox News is reporting that the White House held discussions with Snow about the press secretary job earlier this week, so McClellan's departure has apparently been in the works for a while. Personally, I think Senor might be the best candidate (among those being mentioned for the job). He did a solid job in Iraq, under very trying conditions. Clark, on the other hand, received middling marks for her job at the Pentagon, and there's no reason to believe she'd be more effective at the White House. Snow, IMO, is too nice a guy for the spokesman's job.

But any of these individuals would be an improvement over McClellan. As we've noted previously, McClellan often appeared flustered and ineffective in White House briefings. Additionally, McClellan and senior aide Dan Barlett have done a lousy job in developing (and implementing) an effective communications plan. Today's drive-by media/24 hours news cycle dictates an aggressive information campaign that keeps the press on its heels. Unfortunately, the Bush White House has falled silent at inopportune times. For most of last year, the administration let its critics set the debate on Iraq, resulting in plummeting approval ratings for the President. The Administration has proven it can counter-punch, but those efforts have only been sporadic.

Admittedly, being a press secretary in a Republican White House is perhaps the most thankless job in Washington. But a number of spokesmen--including McClellan's predecessor, Ari Fleischer--have proven able to hold their own with a hostile press corps. McClellan never demonstrated that ability; indeed, he often had that "deer in a headlight" look as he sparred with reporters in the briefing room.

Good luck in your retirement, Scott. And while you're at it, take Dan Bartlett with you--his head needs to roll as well. New Chief of Staff Josh Bolten has been on the job less than a week, but I think he's on the right track. Some of the "right" folks are beginning to leave the White House.

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