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Shock And Awe

While I apparently shouldn't have been surprised, anyone listening to Bush over the past several months got the impression that he would simply never accept the resignation of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. I have a feeling that if the Republicans had won (or even lost less heavily) yesterday, he would still have his job. Amusingly enough, I also think that if he'd actually been fired even a week or two ago, it might have helped Republican fortunes in yesterday's election, which proved to be very much a referendum on Iraq and Bush's leadership and willingness to adapt to changing situations. You know, what used to be called "flip-flopping".

With enemies like these, who needs friends?

I'm further surprised that he didn't do what everyone was panicking about and try to yank Lieberman out of the Senate to replace him and flip the Senate back over to the Republicans (because Lieberman's replacement would have been appointed by Connecticut's re-elected Republican Governor Jodi Rell). Robert Gates seems qualified enough for the position, though I have to wonder how often former intelligence officials get moved to the Pentagon, and whether that background will create friction with the command structure. The issue of his involvement in Iran-Contra and his ties to the Bush family will make the confirmation hearings interesting, but he's no Harriet Miers - since we know Bush likes to pick family friends for high government office, we should be happy he at least picked an appropriate one this time around.

Those celebrating should remember, of course, that this is unlikely to make much difference in Iraq in the short term aside from the increased willingness to contemplate an exit strategy (granted, that willingness might have really been the only reason to celebrate Rumsfeld's departure). The situation there is, IMO, largely out of American control, and America lacks the means (which is to say, the warm bodies with guns and training) to put it back into control.

-D.