Wednesday, November 08, 2006

cut and run?

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stepped down as defense secretary on Wednesday, one day after midterm elections in which opposition to the war in Iraq contributed to heavy Republican losses.

President Bush said he would nominate Robert Gates, a former CIA director, to replace Rumsfeld at the Pentagon.

Asked whether his announcement signaled a new direction in the war that has claimed the lives of more than 2,800 U.S. troops, Bush said, "Well, there's certainly going to be new leadership at the Pentagon."

Bush lavished praise on Rumsfeld, who has spent six stormy years at his post. The president disclosed he met with Gates last Sunday, two days before the elections in which Democrats swept to control of the House and possibly the Senate.

Last week, as he campaigned to save the Republican majority, Bush declared that Rumsfeld would remain at the Pentagon through the end of his term.

Seems more like window dressing to me, but it is a moral victory for the brand new Democratic majority. Appears that the kitchen's getting a little too hot.

Of course, meet the new boss, worse than the old boss?

Robert Gates highlights:

* Served as Director of Central Intelligence from November 6, 1991 until January 20, 1993

* 26-year career in the CIA and the National Security Council.

* Only career officer in the CIA's history (as of 2005) to rise from entry-level employee to Director.

* Interim Dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M from 1999 to 2001

* President of Texas A&M University

* During his tenure as a senior-ranking CIA official, Gates was close to many figures who played significant roles in the Iran/Contra affair and was in a position to have known of their activities. However, the evidence developed by Independent Counsel did not warrant indictment of Gates for his Iran/Contra activities.

And with the Administration moving quickly to replace the divisive Secretary of Defense with a trusted ally and close family friend, Gates can ride out the next two years as a lame duck SecDef, blaming any failures on the last guy while dodging any real responsibility.

Still, Rummy's resignation is a big win for the Democrats, with the GOP conceding that he's too much of a liabiliaty to keep any longer. And it's the first sign of any potential change in the current policy for Iraq.

What's that sound? The sands, they are a'shifting.