News

Bolten Prepares to Assume Top White House Post

Republicans in Congress are hoping that incoming White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten will help turn around President Bush's faltering political fortunes. Bolten will soon replace long-time Bush chief of staff Andy Card.

The high-level staff change comes in the wake of low public approval ratings for the president and demands from Republicans to shakeup the White House staff.

Mr. Bush describes Josh Bolten as a creative policy thinker.

"He is a man of candor and humor and directness, who is comfortable with responsibility, and knows how to lead," he said.

Bolten is currently budget director, and served in the White House during the president's first term.

"You have set a clear course to protect our people at home, to promote freedom abroad and to expand our prosperity," he said.

Bolten replaces Andy Card, who is returning to private life after having served as Mr. Bush's chief of staff for nearly five-and-one-half years, the second longest tenure in that White House post in history.

Card is best remembered as the aide who whispered in the president's ear that America was under attack on September 11, 2001.

Stephen Hess, a presidential expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington says, presidents often make staff changes in their second terms, especially when faced with low public approval ratings.

"Lots of people have been demanding a shakeup," he said. "It happens in every administration, when a president is in trouble. Those in Washington, the so-called pundits, sometimes others, say, 'do not just stand there, do something.'"

Republicans, who control both houses of Congress, are concerned that President Bush's weak position in public opinion polls could hurt their re-election chances in November.

Some Republicans had urged the president to go outside his inner circle, and choose a more senior figure to head the White House staff, in hopes of turning around negative views of the administration's handling of Iraq and the response to Hurricane Katrina.

"I think, people will be happy with Josh Bolten as a competent person, who will come in and fill the shoes that Andy Card filled before. But, there really is no new blood," said John Fortier, a political expert at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

"I think, what people are looking for is some senior person, some senior Republican, who has standing on his own, to come into the White House, and be able to talk to Bush outside of the existing staff that he has," he added.

University of Virginia analyst Larry Sabato expects Bolten will be given the opportunity to make other changes, as well.

"People have been expecting a staff change, and, certainly, Republicans have been encouraging it. Whether this is a significant enough staff change is another question," he said.

Experts say staff changes usually make little difference in public perceptions of a president's performance or policies.

But analyst Stephen Hess says there have been times when it did have an impact.

"I think, it made a difference that Ronald Reagan brought in Howard Baker after the Iran Contra Scandal," he said. "Why? It was a scandal. Things needed a cleaning out, and a new person came in to help do that. That was a fairly unique thing. This present situation with George W. Bush, whatever his problems are, they do not have to do with an individual scandal."

Instead, Stephen Hess says, public discontent about Mr. Bush's handling of Iraq remains at the heart of the administration's political problems.

"I mean, this is primarily about Iraq," he said. "There is no sense in talking about his education policy, or something like that. I mean, he has been in office now for nearly six years. He has got one major policy, in which he has thrown all the chips into the game. Is it going to work? We shall see."

After a brief transition period with Andy Card, Josh Bolten will assume his new duties in mid-April.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs