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Rumsfeld Resigns

Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld has tendered his resignation:

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, architect of an unpopular war in Iraq, intends to resign after six stormy years at the Pentagon, Republican officials said Wednesday.

Officials said Robert Gates, former head of the CIA, would replace Rumsfeld. The development occurred one day after midterm elections that cost Republicans control of the House, and possibly the Senate, as well. Surveys of voters at polling places said opposition to the war was a significant contributor to the Democratic victory.

President Bush was expected to announce Rumsfeld’s departure and Gates’ nomination at an afternoon news conference. Administration officials notified congressional officials in advance. In the days leading up to the election, Bush said he wanted Rumsfeld to stay on as defense chief until the end of Bush’s second term.

Wow. More later.

UPDATE: I have the news conference on and Bush is giving perhaps the worst performance I’ve ever seen from him, which is quite an accomplishment. Indeed, it comes across eerily similar to the Saturday Night Live parodies of Bush speeches.

He essentially told a reporter that he had lied last week when asked if Rummy would be going “because that was the only way to get you on to the next question.” Quite bizarre.

Even worse, the suggestion he didn’t want to make this announcement earlier because there was an election coming up. Hello! Major changes in course are something that one might want to mention to voters–especially voters who think the present course is a bad one. I’m simply baffled.

He makes a fair point that one doesn’t want to send the signal that he’s making major tactical decisions for political reasons. Still, the war in Iraq is the most significant public policy issue of the Bush administration.

UPDATE: Here’s the transcript of the sequence referenced above:

REPORTER: Last week you told us Secretary Rumsfeld would be staying on. Why is the timing right now, and how much does it have to do with the election results?

BUSH: You and Hunt and Keil came into the Oval Office and asked me to question one week before the campaign. Basically, are you going to do something about Rumsfeld and the Vice President? The reason why is I did not want to make a major decision in the final days of the campaign. The only way to answer that question, and get it on to another question, was to give you that answer. The truth of the matter is as well, that is one reason I gave the answer. The other reason why is I had not had a chance to visit with Bob Gates yet. I had not had my final conversation with Don Rumsfeld yet at that point. I had been talking with Don Rumsfeld over a period of time about fresh perspectives. He likes to call it fresh eyes.

via Think Progress, which also has the video.

Polimom is baffled, too.

UPDATE: Phil Carter –who totally stole my clever headline idea– wonders, “Will we see meaningful strategic change in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the broader war on terror? Or is this a mere political gambit to assign blame for the 2006 midterm elections and build a bridge to Democrats? Or both?”

Bruce McQuain is less than pleased: “Wonderful. Doing something like this the day after getting spanked electorally. Makes perfect sense, or better said, it is par for the course.”

Dan Drezner, however, is pleased as punch [How pleased is that, exactly? -ed. Three cheers worth, apparently.]

First, this blog has wanted Rummy to retire for quite some time. Second, Gates is a member in good standing of the Bush 41 crowd — i.e., he’s, you know, competent.

Third, if it is Gates, this might reduce some of the paranoia about Joe Lieberman-replacing-Rumsfeld-and-then-being-replaced-by-a-Republican scenario that’s been discussed in some parts of the blogosphere. This also kills the Santorum-for-DoD campaign just after it starts, by the way.

Not that I take Kathryn Jean Lopez all that seriously but, yeah. I would note, though, that for all the nostalgia for Bush 41, the man managed to fritter away a 90 point approval election in time to get soundly not re-elected.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. [IMG] Rummy’s resignation is definitely good news, but there are still others who don’t belong in DC .. but we have to wait a bit longer for this one to disappear [IMG smile_omg]

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  2. a campaign. And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer.” That the President would so brazenly lie is not, of course, surprising (although the lie was so glaring that even conservatives James Joyner and Byron York objected to it). But what is surprising, and encouraging (although it should be commonplace), is that the Washington Post is more or less calling this what it is: Asked about that comment, Bush said he made it because “I didn’t want to

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  3. win or lose, Bob Gates was going to become the nominee.” The President’s admission of lying was so glaring that even Byron York immediately described it as such (as did other conservatives such as James Joyner). So what are the consequences, the implications, the fallout? So far, virtually nothing, and the behavior of The Washington Post shows why that is the case: As I noted in the post I wrote two days ago about the President

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  4. him now. I think that it is just as likely that they were waiting to see how the elections went. If the Republicans had held the Congress, I think Bush would have held onto Rumsfeld. For some alternate opinions on the subject, check out Poliblog and Outside the Beltway.

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  5. neo-neocon says:

    campaign, the cowboys who have been thrown by the bucking broncos, as well as the ones who haven’t, have to get up and get to work. [ADDENDUM: Austin Bay makes some interesting points about what the change at Defense might signify. And I agree with this that Rumsfeld’s “resignation” would have been more strategicially sound had it been accomplished before the election rather than after. It’s been a while since much of anyone has been a Rumsfeld supporter–except for Bush, it seems, and the latter’s

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  6. or NPR news, I’ve been tuned to CNN most of the day listening to various Washington figures offering their opinions on the elections, Rumsfeld’s resignation, and the state of Hill politics in general. I caught President Bush’s press-conference and I agree with James Joyner

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  7. There have been consistent calls from the left for Rumsfeld to step down. This places more and more responsibility in the party who, so far, has nothing to offer but rhetoric. Also Reporting: Hot Air Revealing the ACLU Wizbang Michelle Malkin Outside the Beltway Trackback URL for this post: http://www.yacrwb.org/2006/11/08/donald-rumsfeld-resigning-as-defense-secretary/trackback/

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  8. Original Article syndicated via RSS from Outside The Beltway | OTB

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  9. Anderson says:

    Anyone else think that the Repubs might’ve held Va. and Mt. had they done this 2 weeks ago, as part of a “we’re REALLY going to get Iraq right this time” push?

    Even more shocking is that Bush is picking Gates to replace him — is Dubya shocked enough that he’s actually taking Poppy’s advice now?

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  10. Triumph says:

    Even more shocking is that Bush is picking Gates to replace him — is Dubya shocked enough that he’s actually taking Poppy’s advice now?

    He picked the wrong Gates. Bill would have been a better choice!

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  11. Donald Rumsfeld out, Robert Gates in…

    Will Gates be an improvement? He was a career CIA officer who rose from the bottom to director. Gates also served on the NSC in the Carter administration. He also wrote a very dry book about his career . Those superficial clues would tend to say Gate…..

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  12. Steven Plunk says:

    Would someone please explain to me, with specifics, what Sec. Rumsfeld has done wrong.

    Wars are tough, not all contingencies can be planned for, and hindsight is always 20/20. Besides media and Dem complaints of ineptitude where is any substance to warrant a resignation?

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  13. DC Loser says:

    I thought that Bush might try to put the Dems in a bind and nominate Sam Nunn. It would have been a very good pick if he went with Nunn given his defense expertise.

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  14. Anderson says:

    I have the news conference on and Bush is giving perhaps the worst performance I’ve ever seen from him, which is quite an accomplishment.

    He’s rattled. I think he actually believed they’d hold Congress.

    Nothing else can explain his actually taking his parents’ advice (they’ve been beating the drum against Rummy for a while now) *and* hiring a pal of James Baker’s to run DOD.

    I’m already curious what an ex-CIA chief at DOD will do about detention policy, sending people off to be tortured, waterboarding, etc. Here’s hoping that Gates brings (1) a little common decency & American values, and (2) the ability to look Cheney in the eye & tell him he’s full of sh*t.

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  15. DC Loser says:

    Wars are tough, not all contingencies can be planned for

    I’m sorry, but the military DID plan for those contingencies. According to various media reports and subsequent book, the DoD and DoS wanted to plan for Phase IV of the Iraqi occupation and stabilization efforts, but was specifically told by Rumsfeld and his minions in Feith and Wolfowitz that they were NOT allowed to proceed with the planning and allocation of resources to that mission. That fault can be squarely laid at Rumsfeld’s feet.

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  16. Triumph says:

    Would someone please explain to me, with specifics, what Sec. Rumsfeld has done wrong.

    Ask Bush. He apparently doesn’t have confidence in him.

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  17. Buddy says:

    I thought the speech was stiff — he was quite rattled. But the after-speech question answer has been actually very, very good for him.

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  18. Anderson says:

    Would someone please explain to me, with specifics, what Sec. Rumsfeld has done wrong.

    Mr. Plunk, if that has to be explained to you at this late date, then it’s a total waste of time, because you are obviously not real into listening.

    But, for the record, here’s a threefer:

    (1) Going in with too few troops to maintain civil order, leading to the looting of Baghdad, which clearly told the people of Iraq that we were not sincerely interested in THEIR best interests or in any stable transition.

    (2) Sweeping de-Baathification, destroying what was left of the nation’s bureaucracy. We should’ve handled this more like we did de-Nazification in postwar Germany, which swapped tolerance of some shady characters for gov’t stability.

    (3) Sending the Iraqi army home with their guns. The problems of keeping the Sunni-dominated army in play, while real, were NOTHING compared to (i) demolishing the one real force for order in Iraq and (ii) sending a bunch of armed guys into the streets to join the insurgency.

    If that doesn’t do it for you, read Tom Ricks’ Fiasco.

    All your “couldn’t be foreseen” is just nonsense. Sorry, but that’s the word: nonsense. It’s not like we never invaded a country before.

    The dangers WERE foreseen, not just foreseeable, and they were DELIBERATELY disregarded by Rumsfeld in favor of serving his White House masters and pursuing his ideology of a “transformed” military, an ideology that, like all ideologies, forced Rumsfeld to ignore facts that didn’t fit his theories.

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  19. mike says:

    Goodbye and good riddance – don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

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  20. Bush says Rumsfeld is stepping down

    President Bush said Wednesday Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is stepping down and former CIA D…

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  21. Steve Verdon says:

    He’s rattled. I think he actually believed they’d hold Congress.

    No kidding he is rattled. My guess is this is pretty much the end of Bush doing much as President. Of course, I hope he doesn’t simply become a doormat for the Democrats and things like revamping the senior prescription drug program, raising the minimum wage (go with upping the EITC if you really want to help the low income families), and so forth.

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  22. Anderson says:

    things like revamping the senior prescription drug program

    Well, given that the program can’t simply be repealed, surely fixing the “doughnut hole” and allowing CMS to negotiate prices would be good steps? Or are there arcane economic arguments against those?

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  23. Sean says:

    I am cheering the election results, but have to admit… I thought that was one of Bush’s best press conferences. Comity all around. US democracy at work. You get your ass handed to you, and instead of name calling and woe-is-me-the-election-was-rigged, he comes out decisive (Rumsfeld is gone), pokes fun at Rove, admits defeat (a ‘thumpin’), etc… and has moments of candor and honesty about the pre-election Rumsfeld question… nice change of pace and tone if you ask me.

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  24. legion says:

    Right on, Anderson. Rumsfeld (and Cheney, and Bush) deliberately ignored every opinion & piece of advice, regardless of the source, that didn’t agree with their own pre-concieved ideas about what was “supposed” to happen in Iraq.

    And I’ve got to agree with James as well – it’s truly bizarre that Bush held so firmly in public to supporting a guy he knew was out the door. It might actually have made a significant diference in several close races yesterday. It just gives further insight to just how Bush’s brain (the original one, not Rove) really works that he thought such bald-faced lies would help his & his party’s image.

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  25. Wayne says:

    Bush and GOP has lost their spine.

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  26. Rumsfeld Resigns, Bob Gates Nominated…

    Donald Rumsfeld has a very distinguished history (link) and many have used him as scapegoat in the November elections, but as Mr. Loyala pointed out, Rumsfeld has accomplished great things. I hope he enjoys long days on a beach with a little umbrella…..

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  27. madmatt says:

    Gosh and just last week we were terrorists…how gracious of bush! But it appears we don’t have a grasp of the situation…I think he should look in the mirror.

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  28. [...] You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. One Response to “Donald Rumsfeld Resigning as DefenseSecretary” 1 Y.A.C.R.W.B – Yet Another Conservative, Right Wing Blog » Donald Rumsfeld Resigning as Defense Secretary says: November 8th, 2006 at 1:11 pm […] Also Reporting: Reveal the ACLU […] Leave a Reply [...]

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  29. Steve Verdon says:

    Well, given that the program can’t simply be repealed, surely fixing the “doughnut hole” and allowing CMS to negotiate prices would be good steps? Or are there arcane economic arguments against those?

    Frankly, I’m more worried about expanding the program. It is estimated, as is, to put the U.S. another $8 trillion deeper in the hole with regards to Medicare. If the Democrats make it cheaper, then I’m all for it and I’ll sing their praise. If they make it more expensive, then I’ll point out what liars and hypocrites they are.

    My problem here is that while I like divided government, I’ve long felt that Bush is more like a Democrat in that he sees government as the first and best way to respond to any situation. He is no Clinton and certainly no Reagan. I’m thinking the budget situation is only going to get worse, not better.

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  30. Rumsfeld Out – I’m Stunned…

    Rumsfeld has been thrown out on his ass. The implications for Iraq are up in the air at this moment, but if we pull out totally we’ve handed it to terrorist organizations. On the other hand I said awhile back……

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  31. [...] See Bullwinkle for more. And also Wizbang! and OTB on Rummy. Tags: rumsfeld, hastert, bush, iraq, election, resignation, gates, democrats, republicans, fallout, House, Senate, congress [...]

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  32. Anderson says:

    I’m thinking the budget situation is only going to get worse, not better.

    Well, we do have a couple of wars to pay for, which ought to be a bit of a curb.

    The min wage may be folly, but I doubt it would *hurt* enough to make a huge difference.

    Basically, it’s like the Dems have won a years-long legal battle to control a corporation that’s heavily in debt & has a godawful organization & business plan. “Uh, congratulations?”

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  33. [...] I was doing an intereview for al.com and not have to go to class, so substantial commentary on this will have to wait. However, I am with James Joyner on this: I have the news conference on and Bush is giving perhaps the worst performance I’ve ever seen from him, which is quite an accomplishment. Indeed, it comes across eerily similar to the Saturday Night Live parodies of Bush speeches. [...]

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  34. cian says:

    Yeah Sean, makes torture part of the American way one week, jokes the next. What a guy.

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  35. Steve Verdon says:

    The min wage may be folly, but I doubt it would *hurt* enough to make a huge difference.

    It wont hurt in a “big picture” sense, but it could hurt in that some teens might drop out of school to look for work. Some teens will start work later, and take longer to aquire skills that lead to higher pay, and so on. Not a big deal like $8 trillion, but still bad policy, IMO.

    Basically, it’s like the Dems have won a years-long legal battle to control a corporation that’s heavily in debt & has a godawful organization & business plan. “Uh, congratulations?”

    Well Anderson, that is a good appraisal of the situation, IMO.

    My problem with lowering prices even just for seniors for prescription drugs is that it could reduce research and hence innovation (ie, new drug therapies). Now maybe I’m wrong and it wont have that effect, but I think it is something to be aware of.

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  36. [...] James Joyner writes: He essentially told a reporter that he had lied last week when asked if Rummy would be going “because that was the only way to get you on to the next question.” Quite bizarre. [...]

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  37. Triumph says:

    He makes a fair point that one doesn’t want to send the signal that he’s making major tactical decisions for political reasons. Still, the war in Iraq is the most significant public policy issue of the Bush administration.

    But isn’t dumping Rummy after losing both houses of Congress being done primarily for political reasons?

    The fact that Bush admitted lying to reporters about the issue suggests that if the election had gone the other way, he wouldn’t have sacked Rumsfeld.

    It is very weird logic.

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  38. RUMSFELD RESIGNS…

    [Latest News on Top] Reactions “The worst performance I’ve ever seen” says James Joyner of the Bush presser. “[I]t comes across eerily similar to the Saturday Night Live parodies of Bush speeches.” (OTB) Austin Bay analyzes the Rumsfeld’s exit a…

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  39. James Joyner says:

    Triumph:

    Probably. Still, doing it immediately before an election might have drawn legitimate charges of politicizing the war.

    If he was going to make the change, why not weeks ago?

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  40. Pug says:

    Would someone please explain to me, with specifics, what Sec. Rumsfeld has done wrong.

    Rumsfeld was specifically charged with winning the war in Iraq. He did not accomplish that.

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  41. Anderson says:

    Rumsfeld was specifically charged with winning the war in Iraq. He did not accomplish that.

    Shorter Plunk: “No, besides that.”

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  42. legion says:

    Wow. I honestly didn’t see this coming. Not like this, anyway. Y’know, when they couldn’t find a single 3- or 4-star general in the entire US Army willing or competent to take the job of Chief of Staff, they wound up bringing Schoomaker out of retirement to do the job.

    I wonder if they’ll bring Shinseki back, now that he’s been essentially proven correct, and Rummy’s gone.

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  43. James Joyner says:

    legion: The irony is that Shinseki was much more wrong on this than Rummy. What was needed was not massive numbers of “boots on the ground” but a very small footprint of capable counterinsurgency trainers. More Green Berets, civil affairs, MPs, and the like, yes. More regular infantry? No so much.

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  44. Steven Plunk says:

    Thanks Anderson. I like to be insulted when asking a genuine question. Guys like you need to grow up and act like an adult. I’ve listened to your nonsense for a long time and granted you civil responses or no response at all.

    For the record I am not a political junkie and have work to do every day keeping my business in the black and employing 30 people. Call me old fashioned but my priorities are family, business, then the community which would include politics.

    This is actually the second time you have insulted me personally which reinforces my opinion that those with nothing of value to say try to bully others.

    From now on you get the same respect you give everyone else, none.

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  45. Anderson says:

    What was needed was not massive numbers of “boots on the ground”

    Must disagree. The massive numbers *were* needed, for the immediate post-victory interval, until we’d put new sheriffs in charge of the army & police.

    *Then* it would be time, as JJ correctly says, to get the massive numbers out of Iraq.

    A small CI force would’ve been worse than useless the week Baghdad fell.

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  46. Anderson says:

    Plunk: “How rude of you to suggest I wasn’t listening or paying attention, when as a matter of fact I’m a busy guy without the time to listen or pay attention!”

    Like I said.

    Not that you don’t act well-informed enough when it suits you, as Google handily reveals.

    In Nov. 2006, to wander up and spout stale talking points — “war is tricky! can’t foresee everything!” — is, well, Rumsfeldian.

    Nevertheless, apologies for my impatience.

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  47. Steven Plunk says:

    Anderson,

    Apology accepted.

    I would like to think a person could come here to learn as much as debate. That is certainly why I come here. I make no illusions that I will convert anyone to conservatism with what I post. I post to merely show that a different point of view is out there.

    I don’t choose when to be less informed for the convenience of my posts. Your reference to Google doesn’t tell me anything but insinuates that I am less than honest. Please expand and explain if you would.

    In the mean time I would like to here of a war where mistakes were not made. It seems harsh to judge Rumsfeld with a standard not achieved in history.

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  48. Anderson says:

    In the mean time I would like to here of a war where mistakes were not made. It seems harsh to judge Rumsfeld with a standard not achieved in history.

    “There you go again,” as someone once said.

    No one is criticizing Rumsfeld for “making mistakes,” but rather, for making senseless, unnecessary mistakes & then failing to learn from them. When the looting of Baghdad occurred & Rumsfeld shrugged it off, that was the first unmistakable indication that our war was in the hands of a pure fool. Things got worse from there.

    But quite seriously, pick up Fiasco, if you really want to get some idea of Rumsfeld’s awfulness. (State of Denial is said to be good in that respect as well, but I’ve not read it, & Ricks doesn’t have Woodward’s baggage.) The book is especially important for understanding where we’ve been in Iraq, so that we can see what options we have left.

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  49. [...] I rarely read The Corner, and I note evidence as to why that might be a good idea from Dan Drezner (via James Joyner), as last night Kathryn Jean Lopez wrote: Now that it’s past midnight, I begin my Santorum for SecDef campaign. [...]

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  50. Election Epilogue – Prognostication Scorecard – Tsunami Flotsam…

    There are actually a number of predictions here:
    * Rumsfeld ws politically radioactive and would be fired/resign (HIT).
    * It would happen within two weeks (MISS – It took two months).
    * Republicans could not maintain a majority with Rums…

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  51. [...] The President’s admission of lying was so glaring that even Byron York immediately described it as such (as did other conservatives such as James Joyner). So what are the consequences, the implications, the fallout? So far, virtually nothing, and the behavior of The Washington Post shows why that is the case: [...]

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