WASHINGTON - President Bush should rein in Vice President Cheney and bring in new staff to "talk reality" to an out-of-touch administration, Democrats and Republicans said yesterday.
But the bipartisan advice broke down on whether Bush should dump Karl Rove. Republicans argued that the embattled White House political chief was entitled to stay if he avoided charges in the CIA leak case. But the Senate's top Democrat told CNN that Rove's time is up.

"He should be let go," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said of Rove, who sources told the Daily News is the mysterious "Official A" in court papers who the prosecutor asserts outed CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said quitting was up to Rove. "Whatever is done or not done should be in the hands of Karl Rove as much as anybody," Lott told "Fox News Sunday."

As Bush holed up at Camp David over the weekend, the buzz on the TV talk shows was that the President must move quickly to get beyond the indictment of Lewis (Scooter) Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, for lying to a grand jury in the leak case.

On ABC-TV's "This Week," Reid said Bush should begin with "an apology to the American people" and a pledge not to pardon Libby or anyone else caught up in the leak.

But Republicans tried to play down the damage - and maintain that there are few players.

"This is not anything that can't be overcome" to save Bush's second term, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) told CBS' "Face the Nation," but he agreed with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that a probe of Cheney's office by a "nonpolitical person" could help clear the air.

Schumer said Bush needed to take Cheney "to the woodshed" for his office's involvement in the leak of Plame's name after her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, debunked prewar intelligence on Iraq.

But Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said Democrats were fated to be disappointed in the leak case "by the fact that this appears to be limited to a single individual."

Still, GOP operatives agree the White House needs a course correction after a wave of political, policy and personnel disasters. Bush needs aides who can "go to the Oval Office and talk reality" to a reeling President, Ken Duberstein, who was chief of staff to the late President Ronald Reagan, told NBC's "Meet the Press."

An apology also wouldn't hurt, Duberstein said: "Mea culpas sell with the American people."

Meanwhile, a new poll found that 55% of Americans believe the Libby indictment signaled broader ethical problems within the Bush administration. The ABC News/Washington Post poll also showed Bush's approval rating has dipped to 39%, mirroring other recent surveys.


from: NY Daily News