Bush not only dispatched with Rumsfeld yesterday, but he also dissed Vice President Cheney; NBC's Bob Windrem reports that Bush went against Cheney's wishes in letting Rumsfeld go, and then again in choosing Gates over Cheney's suggestion that they find someone more ideological.
The Washington Post: "Though Bush affectionately patted Rumsfeld on the shoulder as he ushered him out of the Oval Office, there was little sugarcoating the reality that the defense chief, 74, was being offered as a sacrificial lamb."
The Chicago Tribune: "Rumsfeld is usually not the sort of man seen choking back tears… But on Wednesday, Rumsfeld was out of moves, and nearly out of words."
The New York Times says that the timing of yesterday's announcement "left no doubt that Mr. Bush wanted to make a dramatic demonstration of flexibility in dealing with a war that has come to define his presidency."
The Washington Times reports that "Mr. Rumsfeld knew he was leaving at least several weeks ago," and that one contributing factor "was that a Democratic victory likely means hours of inquisitions on Iraq policy by several House and Senate committees.... Mr. Gates, an intelligence analyst by trade, is expected to do a top-to-bottom review of Iraq strategy and of the generals executing it." http
Incoming Senate Armed Service Committee chair Carl Levin says he will "question Gates on his willingness to provide information about pre-war intelligence and the costs of the war."
The Miami Herald says some analysts think that Rumsfeld's exit gives the Administration "a chance to rethink the controversial policies that have earned the United States international condemnation," like its treatment of detainees.
The Washington Post says of possible changes to the Administration's Iraq policy, "The contours of a new policy are not clear, but there is likely to be more pressure on the Iraqi government to rein in sectarian violence and a growing clamor from Democrats to begin a drawdown of U.S. troops... The Baker-Hamilton study group is not expected to call for pulling out of Iraq quickly. Rather, insiders say, the most likely recommendation will be to curtail the goal of democratizing Iraq and instead emphasize stability. That might entail devoting more resources to training and equipping Iraq's military."
The Los Angeles Times reports that "some Iraqi officials appeared concerned Wednesday that the power shift in the U.S. Congress and the resignation of [Rumsfeld] could effect major changes in policy toward their bloodied nation... But Iraqi politicians are mostly in the dark about what to expect, local analysts said, noting there has been much criticism of Republican policy in Iraq but no clear indication of what Democrats would do differently."