Friday, November 10, 2006


Cut & Rum

Let the real recriminations begin.

The chief architect of the '94 Republican Revolution expresses the feeling of many on the timing of the Rumsfeld dismissal:

“I was very disappointed,” said Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker of the House.

“If the president had replaced Rumsfeld two weeks ago, the Republicans would still control the Senate and they would probably have 10 more House members. For the president to have suggested for the last two weeks that there would be no change and then change the day after the election is very disheartening.”

That would be a sentiment more than amplified on Capitol Hill:

"The White House said keeping the majority was a priority, but they failed to do the one thing that could have made a difference," one House GOP leadership aide said Thursday. "For them to toss Rumsfeld one day after the election was a slap in the face to everyone who worked hard to protect the majority."

Exit polling suggested that an overwhelming majority of voters disapproved of the administration's handling of the war in Iraq, and members and aides were frustrated with the timing of the announcement because an earlier resignation could have given them a boost on the campaign trail, they believe.

"They did this to protect themselves, but they couldn't protect us?" another Republican aide said yesterday.

Of course. And even more fascinating, the American people saw their president admit that he blatantly lied one week ago when he told three reporters that Rumsfeld was going to be kept until the end of his term. There are many ways that a politician can shade the truth without baldfacedly lying. Bush didn't take that option:

Bush credited Rumsfeld with overseeing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while overhauling the military. "I'm pleased with the progress we're making," Bush said. He replied in the affirmative when asked if he wanted Rumsfeld and Cheney to stay with him until the end.

Consider him fortunate that this wasn't a televised interview, so he was spared the indignity of a "I did. not. have. sex. with. that. woman..." moment.

But what was most tragic about this is that, strategically, this was an incredibly foolish statement. The news that Bush was sticking with Rumsfeld -- coming five days before the election -- merely helped fire up all those voters angry over the war and sounded like Bush was "staying the course."

So, the president dithered on making a change that could have saved some Republican members, lied about the fact that he was thinking of making the change -- which created news that helped his political opponents.

If there needed to be any further evidence that much of this electoral debacle -- corruption aside -- can be laid at the feet of the president, well, he's provided it himself.

Heckuva job.

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