Bush Taps Portman As New Budget Director

When I saw the headline, I thought it odd that Natalie Portman would have been given the nod for OMB. While it would have been a bold move, she is not really qualified for the job, Harvard degree or not. And she’s not exactly one of the president’s biggest fans.

It turns out that it is Rob Portman. No relation of which I’m aware.

Bush Taps Portman As New Budget Director

President Bush on Tuesday nominated Trade Representative Rob Portmanas the White House budget director, turning to a Washington insider and longtime friend as part of an effort to re-energize the administration and boost the president’s record-low approval ratings. Bush also selected Susan Schwab, the deputy trade representative, to move up to the top trade job, replacing Portman.

At least it’s not Tom DeLay.

Bush said more changes are in the works under his new chief of staff, Joshua Bolten. “With a new man will come some changes,” the president said. But he emphasized anew that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s job is safe, despite calls for his resignation from a half dozen retired military commanders. “I hear the voices and I read the front page and I know the speculation,” the president told reporters in the Rose Garden. “But I’m the decider and I decide what’s best. And what’s best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense.”

The president noted that Washington is buzzing with rumors about an administration shake-up. Treasury Secretary John Snow is said to be on the verge of leaving, and Republicans outside the White House say they expect changes in the White House lobbying and communications shops. “I understand this is a matter of high speculation here in Washington,” the president said. “It’s the game of musical chairs, I guess you would say, that people love to follow.”

He said he had given Bolten broad authority to make changes to strengthen the White House. “And of course he will bring different recommendations to me as to who should be here and who should not be here,” the president said.

Both NYT and WaPo have stories touting the upcoming shakeup. Given the Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condi Rice, and Rumsfeld are staying, it seems inconceivable that any moves will have a substantial impact on the polls. There are very few other figures in the administration that most folks have heard of.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.