Andrew Samwick writes about replacing Card with Bolten:
Vox Baby: Bolten To Replace Card as Chief of Staff: Bolten To Replace Card as Chief of Staff: The President announced today that Josh Bolten would replace Andy Card as White House chief of staff. This strikes me as a very good move. The administration achieved its major policy successes with Bolten in the White House as deputy chief of staff. He was underutilized at OMB, given the insufficiently ambitious deficit reduction goals set by the President. (Yes, that's a euphemism.)
Of all the people I met while working in the Executive Office of the President, there were three who impressed me most with their ability to understand complicated policy issues very quickly. Bolten was one. Another was Keith Hennessey, deputy director of the National Economic Council. The other was David Hobbs, director of legislative affairs, who has since moved on to lobbying. So Bush has a very smart guy running the show. This leaves the directorship of OMB vacant. I wouldn't be surprised if Joel Kaplan, the current deputy director, were promoted from the inside.
We can all agree that Andrew Card was the worst chief of staff ever: a man who was very good at making sure that the president heard only what he wanted to hear.
But I don't understand Andrew's enthusiasm for Bolten. First, I don't understand what "major policy successes" Andrew Samwick thinks the Bush administration accomplished with Bolten as deputy chief of staff. Major political successes, yes. But policy successes? By what moving-of-the-goalposts can the Bush policy record be characterized as better than a goose egg? And to the extent that Bolten was an effective deputy chief of staff, he bears his share of the blame.
And then there is this strange passage from Samwick: "[Bolten] was underutilized at OMB, given the insufficiently ambitious deficit reduction goals set by the President. (Yes, that's a euphemism.)" In other words, Bolten did not do his job at OMB. The job of the OMB Director is to be the pain-in-the-ass always arguing for sounder fiscal policy, for taxes to cover expenditures, and for expenditures that are cost effective. Bolten didn't do that. It's true that Bush didn't want him to do his real job. But that's the point: we want public servants, not presidential servants, in office.
My take: bad news. The Bush administration will continue to be worse than we imagine--even after taking account of the fact that it is worse than we imagine.