Today's Blogs

Goodbye, Donnie

Bloggers reflect on the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and pick apart the record of his potential successor, Robert M. Gates. They also consider the ouster of Sen. George Allen of Virginia.

Goodbye, Donnie: In a press conference Wednesday, President Bush announced the departure of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and nominated former CIA Director and Texas A&M President Robert M. Gates as his successor. Bloggers are split on Rumsfeld’s legacy and on whether Gates will be an improvement.

Hawks look back fondly at Rumsfeld’s tenure. “Rumsfeld served his country well and, while he made mistakes, suffered a great degree of scorn he did not deserve,” writes anonymous conservativenational-security blogger See-Dubya at Patterico’s Pontifications. “I am sorry to see such a dedicated public servant leave under these circumstances, and I do not envy his replacement.” Righty Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters Blog speaks highly of Rumsfeld’s record but thinks that if he had to go, now was not the time: “Just two weeks ago, Bush riled up the electorate by pledging unwavering support for Rumsfeld for the next two years. I’m sure that a number of Republican politicians who find themselves out of a job wonder why this decision didn’t get made two months ago, and why Bush had to issue that unhelpful statement in the midst of the midterm struggles.”

Critics of Rumsfeld collectively say “good riddance to bad rubbish.” Liberal philosophy professor hilzoy at Obsidian Wings calls Rumsfeld’s resignation “a necessary condition for any real change in Iraq or Afghanistan.” Disillusioned conservative lawyer Gregory Djerejian at The Belgravia Dispatch agrees but still predicts a bumpy road ahead: “Is this some Panacea? No, of course it is not. Will the situation in Iraq likely deteriorate further…? Likely, yes.” Los Angeles lawyer and Army veteran J.D. Henderson at left-leaning Intel Dump sums up the anti-war conventional wisdom, saying, “Rumsfeld was the most incompetent, meddlesome, most dangerous (to our national security and our soldiers) Secretary of Defense in history, but he is not solely to blame for the mess this administration has made in national security.”

Bloggers are similarly mixed on Robert M. Gates. Neoconservative wunderkind Michael Rubin, writing at the National Review’s The Corner fears that Gates will “revert to the short-termism and wishful thinking that eventually culminated in our victimization on 9/11.” Conservative Department of Defense employee Dave at Garfield Ridge is not happy with his new boss, asserting, “America needs a warrior right now, not some desk-rider who is chosen primarily for his bipartisan political appeal.”

Concerned conservatives have allies on the left end of the political spectrum. CIA vet Larry Johnson at the liberal TPM Cafe claims that Gates tried to fix intelligence to fit his political agenda during his time at the CIA. “I remember talking to the South African analyst back in 1988, who told me about the Bob Gates tried to change the lede on an intelligence piece, which argued that Nelson Mandela was NOT a communist,” Johnson writes. “Gates wanted the lede to say that Mandela was a communist. The analyst kicked back hard and ultimately prevailed, but this behavior was consistent with his reputation as a political animal willing to curry favor with the political masters downtown and sacrifice sound analysis.” The New Republic’s Brad Plumer has stronger words, calling Gates “a lighter shade of war criminal” for his record on Central America during the 1980s.

But most liberals are optimistic about Gates. Liberal American Prospect opinion journalistEzra Klein responds on Tomorrow’s Media Conspiracy Today to neoconservative criticism of Gates’ record on Iran by quipping, “So the new Secretary of Defense doesn’t favor launching ill-advised and counterproductive wars on Middle Eastern countries? That’s, uh, terrible.”

Read more about Rumsfeld and Gates. In Slate,Phillip Carter lists Rumsfeld’s failings. John Dickerson comments on Bush’s press conference announcing the switch. And Fred Kaplan makes the case for Gates.

Meet the new boss: Sens. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., and George Allen, R-Va., have conceded defeat in their respective races for re-election, giving Democrats control of the U.S. Senate. Bloggers consider the implications of a Congress controlled entirely by Democrats.

Progressive “netroots” activist Chris Bowers at MyDD believes the results vindicate the strategies of Internet campaigners, calling it “particularly sweet that Montana and Virginia put us over the top, showing once again that the people-powered movement can make a big impact in red states too.” Meanwhile, the anonymous conservative at GayPatriot—an admirer of Allen—wonders if the senator will get his job back in two years: “With a graceful concession speech, he puts himself in a strong position to run for the seat his senior colleague John Warner is expected to vacate in two years.”

Lefty Mideast specialist Blake Hounshell at American Footprints thinks that with Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., at the helm of the Senate foreign relations committee, it’s time to evaluate Biden’s plan, formulated with foreign-policy commentator Leslie Gelb, to partition Iraq. “It seems likely to me,” writes Hounshell, “… that at least some elements of the proposal will become policy.” Harvard economist and former Bush adviser Greg Mankiw predicts on Mankiw’s Blog that Democrats will try to drive down the price of prescription drugs and consequently the amount of research and development conducted by pharmaceutical companies. “Good news if you plan to be sick soon,” says Mankiw. “Bad news if you plan to be sick in the more distant future.”

Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin foresees a more sensational two years, saying, “the groundwork is being laid” for impeachment proceedings.

Read more about Jim Webb and George Allen. Get Slate’s full coverage of the midterm elections here.