Less than an hour ago, the White House announced that Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld will be stepping down. "The timing is right for new leadership at the Pentagon," Bush said at the White House Wednesday afternoon. According to an AP story, the fact that opposition to the war in Iraq contributed to heavy Republican losses in yesterday's election was a major factor. Bush said he was nominating Robert Gates, a former CIA director, to replace Rumsfeld.
Democrats and Republicans alike have been calling for Rumsfeld's resignation for months as it's become increasingly clear that the war is not going the way the administration had hoped.
Reuters called Rumsfeld "a forceful, divisive Pentagon Chief." He has also been called a reckless warmonger who showed no strategic value in the planning for the war in Iraq, refused to consider what would be done after the "peace" was won, failed to adequately supply both U.S. and Iraqi troops, alienated important U.S. allies, and tolerated treatment of prisoners that many believe severely damaged the U.S.'s reputation abroad.
The London Daily Telegraph said that the most damaging criticisms of Rumsfeld were focused on the foundering war on terror. When the U.S. abruptly changed focus from Afghanistan to Iraq, the search for Osama bin Laden became "distracted" and current troops in Afghanistan were "... spread too thinly in Afghanistan to prevent a steady Taliban encroachment."
The allegation had increasing resonance in America ahead of the November elections. Mr Bush's strong sense of personal loyalty and his belief that admitting errors amounts to weakness allowed Mr Rumsfeld to stay in place longer than most observers expected, but even his boss's patience eventually expired.
The New York Times reported that Rumsfeld had come to "symbolize President Bush’s controversial Iraq policy." Just yesterday, Bush had boasted complete support for Rumsfeld and said that "he was here to stay."