Having now read fifteen or twenty news stories about what a devastating blow the Lewis Libby indictment was to the administration, about how President Bush is "reeling" and the administration is "in turmoil," even "in crisis," and how Libby was a key and irreplaceable figure in the administration, whose departure is a serious blow because he played such a vital role, I couldn't help wondering: does anyone remember who Al Gore's chief of staff was when he was vice-president?This is irrelevant, of course. The significance of any given member of an administration is not dictated by their official position. The Vice President, for instance, was widely regarded as an almost entirely irrelevant office, until Al Gore and Dick Cheney assumed more power within their respective administrations than was typical. And it's no secret that during Bush's first term, Condi Rice was far more influential within the White House than was Colin Powell, even though Powell occupied a technically "higher" position than Rice.
Whether or not anybody remembers Al Gore's chief of staff is irrelevant for the same reason. Most people don't remember who Bill Clinton's Secretary of Defense was (or at least not all three of them!), but that would hardly mean that an indictment of Donald Rumsfeld was no big deal.
Now, whether the Bush administration is in crisis or not is probably a matter of perception, or at least is something that remains to be seen. But the Scooter Libby indictment is a big deal by almost any measure, though it's obviously not catastrophic.