NBC's Ken Strickland reports that per a senior aide for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Defense Secretary nominee Robert Gates' confirmation hearing before the Armed Services Committee will likely start during the week of December 4, and he may be confirmed by the full Senate before the end of the year.
"Gates' forceful pronouncements over the years routinely have been tempered by more moderate positions that make it difficult to discern exactly what sort of course the ex-CIA chief might chart for the military," says the Los Angeles Times. "As a result, lawmakers and senior staffers on Capitol Hill said that although they expected relatively uneventful confirmation hearings..., senators would strive to decipher his often complex views and gauge his ability to lead a military that... was under extreme stress. Most predicted Gates would sail through."
The New York Times writes that Bush was already moving by late summer to replace Rumsfeld, but he postponed final action until after the election because he didn't want it to be interpreted as a political move. Some Republicans are furious that the move wasn't made before the election.
The Washington Post notes how Bush over the years has tried to demonstrate independence from his father -- but how he's now "seeking help from some key veterans of George H.W. Bush's team to salvage the remainder of his own administration... The turn to representatives of the old Republican establishment such as Baker and Gates, whether it has anything to do with paternal relations or not, has sent a signal that Washington perceives as a bid to bring more pragmatism to policymaking."
The Boston Globe says Bush's renomination of Bolton as UN Ambassador is "destined to provoke Democrats even before Congress adjourns for the year."
Bloomberg reports that incoming Senate Armed Services chair Carl Levin plans to use his post to push for US troop withdrawal.
USA Today does some fleshing out of Democrats' vague proposals on security, including more money for local first responders and for port security, and new standards for the screening of both security officials and incoming cargo.
Then there's this, per Reuters: "Iran's most powerful leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Friday called [Bush's] defeat in the congressional elections an 'obvious victory' for the Iranian nation.