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The Reporters: US mid-terms

Katty Kay

Rummy's firing squad


If Donald Rumsfeld had been "let go" a few months ago, would the Republicans be facing such a desolate political landscape today?

That's the question being asked by some bitter party stalwarts who appear to believe the Senate, at least, would still be theirs if Rummy had gone in time for the Republicans to make political capital from the move.

But others disagree (by the way, I think we're going to see a lot of this over the next two years: disagreement amongst Republicans, amongst Democrats, between the two parties and between Congress and the White House).

Look at the exit polls. Yes, Iraq was a big factor, but so was corruption.

Conservatives were so fed up with the ethics of the party leadership that even putting Mr Rumsfeld up against a firing squad might not have changed their actions.

These elections have revealed chasms in both parties - now the battle begins for who controls the centre ground. It's going to be a fascinating two years - not pretty, but fascinating.

Katty Kay is a presenter on BBC World

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  • 1.
  • At 05:26 PM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • Dave Parker wrote:

Maybe they realised that any gain from Rumsfeld's departure would be more than undone by parting-shots at the American electorate like the Iraq fiasco being too "complex for people to comprehend" - surely reason enough to hold it back till Nov 8. With soundbites like that I think I'd be "stay the course" till polls closed too!

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  • 2.
  • At 06:13 PM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • KM wrote:

As ironic as this may seem, the election results in America have done great service to Mr. Bush’s campaign to make democracy popular worldwide.

I’m sure that today people all over the undemocratic world are admiring the ease with which democracies get rid of their non-performing leaders.

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  • 3.
  • At 06:35 PM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • Derek wrote:

I do not think it would have made a difference a few months ago. Lets face it, the approach to Iraq and all that has happened is not just down to 1 man.

Personally, I have yet to see any other plan put forward, either for now, or what could have been used in the beginning, that would change were we are today.

It does not matter if we had 500,000 troops on the ground and the best weapons money can buy. You can not fight an enemy with weapons when they look, speak and act like everyone else, whilst at the same time trying to win over the civilian population.

Unfortunately, US Troops tried to do just that.. kicking in people’s doors at 3am, raiding mosques, arresting innocent civilians, bombing civilians, abusing civilians, not living up to promises of better infrastructure, curfews etc etc.

Having lived in the middle east, the outcome to me was obvious even before the first shot was fired. I think the underlying issue is that few people in the administration truly understand that people outside of the US are different.

I am just waiting to see what the Democrats put forward as a different approach to Iraq.. but I also feel a little sorry for them since there is not a viable plan available.

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Rumsfeld is tied so closely to the mismanagement of Iraq that he personifies Bush's foreign policy, (neither of which was based on reality).

So Bush couldn't fire Rummy earlier or he would have exposed his entire "worldview" as evidence of failure. The democrat's win would have been even bigger.

This was a great political move, but too late for Iraq by about three years.

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There was a crisis in leadership and it was inevitable that the governing elite in Washington had to make changes.

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  • 6.
  • At 07:13 PM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • Ann R. wrote:

Funny, I do not find "chasm" as a synonym for "rout" or "thumpin," but here are 2 homonyms we've come to know: DECIDER and DIVIDER (as in promoting discord). This election showed not disagreement but overwhelming national loathing of Republicans leading to a Democratic landslide. You'll be seeing more of that unity, it won't be center, and Republicans will continue to make a lot of noise signifying nothing. Republicans have demonstrated to the world that they would rather lie than change. The Democratic process is what has been compromised. There is no debate in the police state Bush so yearns to establish. I say thump 'em good. They've earned it.

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  • 7.
  • At 07:20 PM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • Dave Parker wrote:

I missed "I didn’t want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of this campaign". Yep, on past performance that's probably another smart move.

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  • 8.
  • At 08:22 PM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • DB wrote:

George W should remember, false words and deeds are not forgotten. The last president to be involved with a war of this complexity lost his presidency .

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  • 9.
  • At 08:26 PM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • Joan Affenit wrote:

The question is not whether he resigned too late to benefit the Republican Party, but rather, too late for the United States, Iraq and the world.

My reaction on hearing his resignation was "why bother now?" From the national or global view, it's a bit like closing the barn door after the cows have gone.

Rumsfeld has done so much harm and cost us so much in terms of political capital, the war on terror, world peace, and federal dollars, he has created a quagmire of such unimaginable proportions, that to let him leave now is almost lunacy, as now someone else will be held accountable to clean up his mess.

So now the new SECDEF and the new Democractic congress will have their heads on the chopping block trying to clean up this mess.

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  • 10.
  • At 10:23 PM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • Charles Hill wrote:

Well, better late than never.

BTW, for a potentially viable plan, take a look at Biden's WSJ editorial, "Bipartisan Redeployment": http://biden.senate.gov/newsroom/details.cfm?id=265016&&

This brings up a host of new questions, to be sure. None of which are easy (Turkey, for example will not like this at all). But at least it's got some new thinking.

And, don't be surprised if the James Baker group comes back with some variation on these themes.

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I am so glad Donald Duck is out of there! He has done nothing but cause America heart ache. Now as it stands, we have one more heart ache to either get impeached, or wait til his term is over, that being George.

While America has been a leader for rights, and freedom. It is of urgency that we return Rights to our own land and people, and freedom to our own, and in doing both of them we will see Rights and Freedom explode around the World. Peace time comes with a price, are we willing to pay for it? if so, lets remove george out of office

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  • 12.
  • At 01:13 AM on 10 Nov 2006,
  • R. Carrillo wrote:

Rumsfeld's departure was already assured regardless of the outcome of the election. His successor was asked to take the position of Defense Secretary back on the Sunday before the election.

It would seem to me that the Bush administration believed that Rumsfeld's resignation would be seen as a move of desperation in the elections and not simply as Rumsfeld taking his leave. Thus, he resigns the day after the elections.

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  • 13.
  • At 01:14 AM on 10 Nov 2006,
  • Carolyn wrote:

I would really like to hold my head up, smile, look non-Americans in the eye, and say "I'm American"....and have them smile back.

Ditching Rumsfeld is one small step to this possibility....now, if we could just get Bush cleaned up, educated, and humble...

Ah well,

Big stick politics don't work, especially for those who strike the first blow....by the way, anyone seen Bin Laden?

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Anyone with any brains (not the right and left gatekeepers of mainstream media ) knew that Rumsfeld was set up to be the fall guy or "Dr. Evil" the whole time. Now he can retire from public life and work behind the scenes doing " International charity" work for drug and chemical companies. Democrats have made it clear that nobody will be punished for their crimes in the events of 911, Iraq or the help in destroying the American Republic for the sake of the Globalists.
A job well done Rummy! I am sure they will reward you hansomely.

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  • 15.
  • At 09:13 AM on 10 Nov 2006,
  • ash wrote:

bush's party has failed miserably in their attempts at whatever in iraq and now the us can never send troups where they should i.e afghanistan and darfur.

How many countless american and iraqi lives have been flushed down the toilet. Now when they finally run out of iraq the innocent civilians of that country are going to be slaughtered in a never ending civil war. Hey thanks for killing sadam, definately worth the effort.

Firing rumsfeld isnt going to magically cure whats been done although it prevents further fantasy based decision making. Too little too late. If the system allowed it the american people would have kicked bush and chenney out too.

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  • 16.
  • At 03:03 PM on 10 Nov 2006,
  • Joan Affenit wrote:

The question is not whether he resigned too late to benefit the Republican Party, but rather, too late for the United States, Iraq and the world.

My reaction on hearing his resignation was "why bother now?" From the national or global view, it's a bit like closing the barn door after the cows have gone.

Rumsfeld has done so much harm and cost us so much in terms of political capital, the war on terror, world peace, and federal dollars, he has created a quagmire of such unimaginable proportions, that to let him leave now is almost lunacy, as now someone else will be held accountable to clean up his mess.

So now the new SECDEF and the new Democractic congress will have their heads on the chopping block trying to clean up this mess.

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  • 17.
  • At 01:38 AM on 11 Nov 2006,
  • jneedleman wrote:

On CNN, C-Span, Fox News and even in the London Telegraph, there has been a lot of preaching about how Democrats shouldn't see this as a mandate -- that "mid-term elections are simply about bitterness and revenge." What usually follows in these sermons is disingenuous advice to Dems to avoid seeking to exploit or abuse their newfound power.

Two common-sense responses:

1. Where was this mid-term restraint during the introduction of Gingrich's vicious and self-important majority in congress? Why would the same commentators who advise restraint now have applauded the "Contract with America" then -- a bait-and-switch "mandate" suggesting that a conservative extremist agenda, not balancing Clinton's Democratic presidency with due process, was the only thing on voters' minds?

2. I hate to break it to Murdoch's mannequins, but the Republicans lost despite the right-wing press smears, despite monetary advantage, despite unfair rezoning, despite recurring voting fraud and despite manipulative anti-Democratic disqualification. If anyone should be lowering their voices and reexamining their position, it's you. If anyone should asking for advice, it's you -- Repubs -- from us!

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Here’s a programme that features a discussion about Robert Gates who replaces US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld.
Robert Gates was involved in the Iran-Contra scandal that also sold weapons to Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq; the middlemen for these arms deals? Israel.

Democracy Now with Mel Goodman and Bob Parry

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  • 19.
  • At 02:14 PM on 11 Nov 2006,
  • Fred wrote:

The problem in Iraq is the greed of the militant Islamic factions who will apparently kill or starve anyone in any numbers in order to gain power.

Same thing takes place in many places where the US is not involved. It just doesn't get the bad press that US involvement does.

Watch out Europe, you have already lost the right to satirize or draw cartoons criticising Moslems, mandatory burkas and female circumcision are coming soon.

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  • 20.
  • At 08:29 PM on 13 Nov 2006,
  • ah wrote:

>>that to let him leave now is almost lunacy, as now someone else will be held accountable to clean up his mess.

>>So now the new SECDEF and the new Democractic congress will have their heads on the chopping block trying to clean up this mess.


Keeping him around will only serve to allow politicians a scapegoat if they don't succeed and to act as a distraction if they're not accomplishing anything at all. I'd rather they had to work twice as hard to prove their worth.

Maybe they'll actually do something worthwhile for a change.

Just remember, whether Democrat or Republican, no one forced them to represent us. If they want to lead us, then go ahead but they'll have to take it on warts and all.

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Rummy and his cohorts, the Axis of Stupidity; this could not happen to a nicer bunch of guys; we wonder if Bush & and his lap dog Tony B can be charged for their participation in domacracy's march to the "See I told you so"

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