Bloggers are reading the tea leaves to make sense of Andy Card's departure from the White House. They are also pondering post-election coalition-building in Ukraine and mourning the passing of sci-fi pioneer Stanislaw Lem.
Shuffled Card: President Bush on Tuesday announced the resignation of Andrew Card, his long-time chief of staff, and introduced Joshua Bolten, director of Office of Management and Budget, as his replacement. Some view the move as an indication the beleaguered administration hopes to revamp itself before November's midterm elections.
"Bolten (en, not on) replaces Card as White House Chief of Staff. This was Card's idea, not Bush's, because Bush is loyal and never fires anyone, or Andy took one for the team. Or because Bush never has any ideas," quips administration critic Joe Ivory Mattingly, The Heretik.
Joe Gandelman, the "professional ventriloquist" and journalist of The Moderate Voice wonders if recent press coverage on White House staffer exhaustion could have served a larger purpose: "[P]erhaps these stories were to lay the groundwork for Card leaving with the explanation that he asked to be alllowed to move on," he theorizes. Gandelmen thinks this shakeup augurs poorly for the Democrats in the long run."It's bad news for the Democrats because it signals that the White House is a more fluid operation that it appeared — and that more changes in staffing, incremental changes in style, and perhaps some image reshaping is likely to be on tap for 2006, heading into the elections."
Daily Kossack Georgia10 finds nothing strange about a periodic turnover in high-level staffers, but wonders why Bush previously seemed unwilling to consider one. "The fact that Bush … has now accepted the resignation of Andy Card proves again that this is a weak President forced to listen to a very, very frightened party threatened with losing its majority status come November."
Not so fast, says Bush-Cheney '04 eCampaign director Michael Turk at Kung Fu Quip. He calls being the president's chief of staff the "hardest job on earth," before pillorying the media for searching for deeper significance in Card's departure. "It's a testament to [Card's] abilities that he … served that long without a psychotic break. … But all of this, despite what you will hear from the left and the MSM, is not indicative of trouble in the White House. This is simply a reshuffling of the deck."
The directors of Red State find balm in a similar event during Reagan's second-term slump: "While the President suffers from lame duck syndrome and a stagnant administration at present, we should remember that at this point in his administration, Reagan was the same way. He then picked a new Chief of Staff, turned a corner, and revitalized his Presidency. We hope for the same from President Bush."
Ukraine elections: With President Viktor Yushchenko's party gaining only 15.1 percent of the vote in Sunday's parliamentary elections, he is discussing the possibility of forming a coalition government. The parties led by Yulia Tymoshenko, Yushchenko's outcast former prime minister, and Viktor Yanukovych, his pro-Russian rival, garnered 30.4 and 22.4 percent of the vote, respectively. Coalition-building is crucial, as no single party garnered enough of the vote to form a government on its own. Both the United States and international observers have hailed the elections for being both free and fair.
Blogging from northeast England, armchair LibDem activist Stephen at Ten Thousand Things praises the democratic quality of the elections, despite the losses of Yushchenko's party. "Cue much talk of how the revolution has failed to change anything. But isn't the fact that the sitting President's party can actually be defeated in an election some sign of progress? It certainly wouldn't happen in Belarus."
Cyber Cossack chides the Western media for calling the outcome a victory for Moscow. "No, a 'Moscow' victory would have been replete with dioxin, multiple shot suicides, and other sovietesque anomolies. This election was a win for Yushchenko as his stated goal in the first term was to build a nation, and this jackboot-free election is the first significant act of a free and united nation."
Robert Mayer at Publius Pundit sees victory for Yushchenko in his party's losses: "[B]ecause Tymoshenko and Yanukovich have ruled out a coalition with each other, the most desirable coalition for each side is with Yushchenko. This puts him in an extremely favorable negotiating position that, while his party may have won less votes than both of the other two, may mean that he comes out on top regardless of which side he joins," he writes.
Election observer Jibbsey blogs from Kievograd. "Spent the weekend officially observing the elections in infamous 100th district of Kievograd (Kyivograd?), home to some of the most intense fraud during last year's presidential elections. It would be unfair to say that things haven't changed there—because they have. And although we were personally: lied to by phoney press agents, stalked (by a green striped minibus), bugged … the electoral commissions were eager to help, doing their damnedest to assure that the vote was free and fair…" she writes.
Farewell Stanislaw: Science fiction heavyweight Stanislaw Lem, best known for his novel Solaris, died yesterday at age 84. Lem was displeased with both Andrei Tarkovsky's and Steven Soderbergh's film adaptations of Solaris.
D. Cloyce Smith at Cloyce's Coffee Klatsch calls the science-fiction world a "dimmer place" with Lem's passing and reflected on his body of work. "Lem is a clever, witty, challenging writer—Jorge Luis Borges catapulted through a timewarp—and his oeuvre is worth exploring," he writes.