USA election '06 – aftermath

Democrats conquer, Rumsfeld quits, Bush concedes

Troy Espera | November 10, 2006

WASHINGTON DC — With a congressional election triumph and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's resignation, Democrats say they will use their new clout to force a change in Iraq policy and demand that President George W. Bush start bringing U.S. troops home.

Rumsfeld's resignation came after months of the president backing Rumsfeld and insisting the war in Iraq was on track. His arguments lost steam after voters catapulted Democrats to power in Tuesday's election, giving Democrats control of both the House and Senate next year.

Democrats say they hope election gains would provide momentum for more than the fall of Rumsfeld.

According to the Associated Press, the Democrats’ first stop next year will be legislation calling for an undetermined number of troops to come home immediately. Though Democrats are divided over exactly what to propose, they say their effort will send a loud political signal to disgruntled U.S. voters, and to Iraqis to assume more responsibility.

"I believe a number of Republicans will want to join forces here because there's a lot of unease in the country," said Sen. Carl Levin, the Democrat in line to head the Senate Armed Services Committee in the new Congress, to the AP.

In words and tone, Bush conveyed an unfamiliar flexibility and rare willingness to work with his political adversaries Wednesday on his war strategy. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that just last week, Bush said Rumsfeld was doing a "fantastic' job and would remain in his administration through the end of his presidency.

The change came just hours after Bush learned that his party had lost control of the House and, presumably, the Senate, prompting many to read it as a begrudging recognition of the nation's anti-war sentiment. It also came after one of the bloodiest months yet in Baghdad and growing criticism from the military about Rumsfeld's leadership, prompting others to read it as an acknowledgement that the status quo is failing.

"There's certainly going to be new leadership at the Pentagon,' Bush said in a statement to the media Wednesday. "Sometimes it's necessary to have a fresh perspective.'

Bush's announcement came just 45 minutes after House speaker-in-waiting Nancy Pelosi told a packed news conference outside her Capitol office that "there has to be a signal of change of direction on the part of the president. And one good place he could start ... is to change civilian leadership at the Pentagon.'

"To state the obvious, elections matter,' said Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, reports the Chronicle.

According to the Chronicle, when asked why the new tone, Bush said: "What changed today is the election is over and the Democrats won. And now we're going to work together for two years to accomplish big objectives for the country." – Issued by Gay Link Content

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