Robert Gates is drawing rave reviews from those who want the U.S. out of Iraq. Zbigniew Brzezinski says “I think the Gates appointment is the best appointment that President Bush has made in the course of his six years in office.” Sen. Hagel says “President Bush has made an excellent choice for this critically important position. Bob Gates is qualified, competent and experienced.” Rand Beers, a national security adviser to the Kerry campaign also has kind words for Gates.
And the White House is touting these and other endorsements in a press release.
Again I ask, if President Bush wanted to replace Rumsfeld with a change-course-in-Iraq guy who could draw positive reviews from his critics, why didn’t he do it six months ago?
JOHN adds: I supppose he was hoping his party would do better on Tuesday. It looks to me as though Bush thought he “had to” get rid of Rumsfeld because of the Dems’ victory. Does the move buy him anything? Maybe. I’m sure the Dems would have agitated to fire Rumsfeld, and probably held hearings. This would have been tied in with a demand for a change in policy on Iraq. With a new Secretary of Defense and the administration awaiting a report from the Baker commission, the Dems can say “I told you so,” but it may be harder for them to go on the offensive.
PAUL adds: I question whether the move from Rumsfeld to Gates was contingent on Tuesday because it seems to have been in the works for a while. Moreover, it has long been clear that the administration was going to take a hit in the election due to the situation in Iraq. Only the size of the hit was in doubt. It likely would have been smaller if Bush had shown the kind of flexibility he’s showing now.
The Baker report apparently is going to arrive soon (and leaks about it even sooner), so the Dem’s offensive won’t be delayed very long. But if the nomination of Gates signals administration captitulation in Iraq, no offensive will be necessary. The mainstream Dems (those who will permit the administration a figleaf instead of demanding immediate outright defeat) can proceed directly to “I told you so.” And the Republicans will be estopped from making that same statement when the price of the capitulation comes due.
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