[[R U M O R S]] * Are Michael Chertoff’s days as U.S. secretary of Homeland Security really numbered? According to administration sources tapped by the conservative magazine Human Events, the answer is “yes.” Political editor John Gizzi writes: “In the aftermath of the public revelation of the presidential ‘teleconference’ and mounting criticism” of Chertoff--including recent denunciations from Michael D. Brown, the ex-head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)--the secretary “has ‘only a few days left’ in the Bush Cabinet. As one source acquainted with the former federal prosecutor and U.S. appellate judge said under promise of anonymity, ‘They will give [Chertoff] a little time so it won’t hurt his reputation too much, but he’s probably got only a few days left.’” Of course, Bush, for all of his self-identification as the “CEO president,” is lousy at disciplining or dismissing recalcitrant underlings, and even worse at getting rid of folks whom he considers loyalists. But he does need somebody else to take the fall for his administration’s increasingly examined failures in relation to last fall’s Hurricane Katrina, and Chertoff might look just swell in sacrificial lamb’s wool.
Perhaps it’s time to pull Dick Cheney in off the bench. The veep certainly has his weaknesses and, with an 18-percent favorability rating in the latest CBS News poll, he might be the least popular person in the West Wing. But lately he’s proven that he isn’t afraid to shoot down friends, much less foes.