Thursday, November 09, 2006

The election results force the President to change course in Iraq

I have heard the convergence of factors leading to the overwhelming nature of the Democratic sweep of the midterm elections 2 days ago as a "perfect storm." Everything played its part including the President and Vice President insisting that a vote for any Republican for Congress was a vote for a 2 year continuation of the present policy and leadership in Iraq.

But then, in a move that must have angered and frustrated Republicans who had just lost, immediately after the election the President fired Donald Rumsfeld and announced a change in direction in Iraq policy. If he had done that before the election some of those defeated Republicans might not have lost. What is going on here?

I remember hearing a story about President Franklin Roosevelt. After meeting with a group asking for federal action on civil rights FDR told them, "OK, you’ve convinced me. Now go out there and force me to do it." Although we always talk about the president as if he is the "decider" there are vast institutional forces at work constraining the president. He is probably being told constantly by his staff what he cannot do.

It is almost as if the Republicans in government were as unhappy with how things were going as the rest of the country but felt powerless to change what they were doing before the election. The election results forced the President’s hand. I may be imagining things but it almost sounded to me like he was relieved. Maybe the burden of being the "decider" is wearing on him, especially when things are so obviously going wrong.

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