When Norm Coleman Says It...
...Take it seriously. Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) expressed his concerns about the inability of the White House to communicate a vision this week. Citing repeated concerns about a political tin ear, Coleman's criticisms are probably the most significant ones to be aired so far. Coleman is a Bush ally, and such on-the-record remarks are an indication that Republicans are no longer comfortable with a White House that seems increasingly unable to keep pace with events.
The fact that these kinds of things are being said by Coleman ought to get White House attention, and ought to scare them into action. Coleman is not the kind who likes to go for cheap political stunts. He is fairly reserved in his media comments, and usually doesn't make opinion statements without facts to back them up. In other words, this is a very careful person who takes very seriously his public statements. So the fact that this made the media should indicate to the White House that this is not a matter which they ought to take lightly.
But the response from Scott McClellan, however was a further sign of the problem. The media jumped on the remarks a number of times, with McClellan stating that it is simply a sign of that the media is playing some game when he is trying to talk policy. And there is some truth to that. They are first and foremost, a band of jackals eager to exploit any weakness they perceive. But McClellan's response ignores the problem and worse yet, is reflective of it.
He was short and grouchy with the media--the surest sign to them that they are controlling him, not the other way around. It also indicates that the Administration is purely on the defensive, which is not the posture that a sitting president ought to be taking when he has an agenda to advance.
While Bush is fiercely loyal to his people, he needs a fresh set of hearts and minds to take over. And he needs to determine whether personal loyalty is more important the success of his Administration. Loyalty is important, but something is clearly not working, and the nation will not be able to get behind an Administration that cannot muster enough energy to move past carping with the media.