This isn’t going to cut it, and is making an already bad situation worse:
“If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration,” Mr. Bush said in response to a question, after declaring, “I don’t know all the facts; I want to know all the facts.”
That is all well and good, but not what he said originally:
Let me just say something about leaks in Washington. There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington. There’s leaks at the executive branch; there’s leaks in the legislative branch. There’s just too many leaks. And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.
This is a real difference in position, and not something that can be spun away. Did they fire all the media handlers at the White House? Are they on vacation?
*** Update ***
Several people have commented that there is no difference between these statements. I took the first statement to read that if someone was found leaking, they would be dealt with (fired, in other words), and if someone was found to have broken the law, they would additionally face criminal prosecution. I interpreted the second one to read that someone will only be dealt with if it is proven they have committed a crime. That, I thought, was a real difference. Maybe I am wrong.
While we are at it, here is a quote from way back:
“Bush warned that he expected his White House staff to meet the highest ethical standards, avoiding not only violations of law, but even the appearance of impropriety.”
“”We must remember the high standards that come with high office,” he said. “This begins careful adherence with the rules. I expect every member of this administration to stay well within the boundaries [that] define legal and ethical conduct.”
Any way you slice or dice it, these recent quotes, when compared to this statement shortly after the inauguration, creates a PR nightmare for the President. A President who is recently having difficulty conveying a perception of honesty should not be engaging in what will rightly be seen as ‘Clintonian’ parsing. Not a position a self-styled ‘straight shooter’ would want to be in, I would think.