Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bush's Team Texas Moves Closer To Extinction

Another story examining the Bush inner circle that followed him from Texas to the White House in 2001, and who have headed back home again, after quitting, with varying levels of controversy and even shame attached to their names :
The already thinning cadre of advisers who followed George W. Bush from Austin to Washington is unraveling even further, with Alberto Gonzales and Karl Rove heading toward the door.

Although Texans are still dotted throughout the administration, most of the influential Lone Star transplants who've worked at Bush's side since his days as Texas governor either have left town or removed themselves from day-to-day influence at the White House.

Gonzales quit last Friday, and Karl Rove officially finishes up his duties at the end of this week.

They join a parade of other departed Bush insiders from Texas, including White House adviser Dan Bartlett, former Press Secretary Scott McClellan, former Federal Emergency Management Agency director Joe Allbaugh and White House lawyer Harriet Miers, who Bush briefly nominated to the Supreme Court before a conservative backlash forced him to withdraw the nomination.

The longevity of many Texas transplants — particularly those who remained at Bush's side deep into his second term — in many ways reflects the mutual loyalty that bonded the former Texas governor and those who joined him at the outset of his political career in the mid-1990s.

Rove, Hughes and Allbaugh, who was Bush's chief of staff in the state capital, formed what was known as the "iron triangle" during the Austin era. Gonzales not only was Bush's legal adviser but also his appointee as Texas secretary of state and a state Supreme Court justice. McClellan, who comes from an Austin political family, was a press aide during Bush's first run for president, in 2000. members of the Bush team shared the president's conservative visions, liked and admired him personally and, as Gonzales noted in his resignation statement Monday, credited him with their personal ascents.

In turn, Bush knew that he could count on his fellow Texans to be tight-lipped and loyal, traits that enhanced the administration's reputation as one of the most leak-proof and internally disciplined in years.

After arriving in Washington in January 2001, Bush became even more dependent on a home-state inner circle that long ago had grown familiar with his style and beliefs.

The steady parade of Texas departures means that Bush, burdened by low approval ratings because of the Iraq war and other issues, largely will be dependent on an evolving new team as he moves into his final year and a half in office.