As enjoyable as last night’s election results turned out to be, the news this morning that Donald Rumsfeld is resigning gave me a bigger jolt of joyful adrenalin. It’s awe-inspiring, folks. Yesterday we voted. Today, the world changed because of our votes.
As of this moment, there’s nothing to link to, just news flashes all over the web, like this site, which is where I first saw it:
This means democracy works! The president was forced to listen to the public, and took this hugely significant step.
We’ve got more than 100,000 troops in Iraq, and millions of Iraqis who are depending on our country to make some useful contribution to end a bloody terrorist insurgency and avert a looming civil war. We’ve got Iran to deal with — and North Korea. So long as Rumsfeld was in charge, a huge and growing percentage of the population — including many who had supported the idea of military action to topple Hussein — no longer believed the Administration was credible or effective, and thus would withhold their support, even from measures that were necessary.
In a perverse way, President Bush did a good thing when he announced, a few days before the election, that Rumsfeld would stay. He made this election an even clearer choice. He obviously underestimated the public’s fury — no big surprise there. But now that Bush’s party has lost, no question about it, Rumsfeld had to go. And so he will.
What other messages is Bush hearing from the electorate? What kind of mandate is the likely Speaker Pelosi taking from all this? What will it do to the Democratic Party to gain a decisive voice in government for the first time in six years? How does this election remake the landscape for 2008 — the first truly wide-open presidential election since 1952? I don’t know. But it’s going to be fun to find out.
Sometimes I wonder why I spent so much of my life involved with politics. It hadn’t been fun for a long time. Days like today remind me why I was attracted to this game. It doesn’t mean I’m going back into it — I never will. But I hope some young people are getting a kick out of this epochal moment. From my seat on the sidelines, I sure am.