I happened to be out running when President Bush gave his press conference the day after the election, and I must admit I was taken aback by the way the president handled the question of the Rumsfeld resignation and its timing. He pretty much admitted that he intentionally misled the press (and thus the nation) about his intentions:
He later spent 5-10 minutes backpedaling from that answer.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Last week you told us that Secretary Rumsfeld will be staying on. Why is the timing right now for this, and how much does it have to do with the election results?
THE PRESIDENT: Right. No, you and Hunt and Keil came in the Oval Office, and Hunt asked me the question one week before the campaign, and basically it was, are you going to do something about Rumsfeld and the Vice President? And my answer was, they're going to stay on. And the reason why is I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign. And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer.
I agree with what Newt Gingrich said about this:
"If the president had decided to replace Secretary Rumsfeld he should have told us two weeks ago," Gingrich said. "I think that we would today control the Senate and probably have 10 to15 more House seats. And I found it very disturbing yesterday in the press conference, the explanation that the President gave.I am willing to give the president the benefit of the doubt on this one, but I am frankly growing weary of doing that.
"We need candor, we need directness," said Gingrich, a potential 2008 presidential candidate."We need to understand the threats we faced with are so frightening and so real, the danger that we'll lose two to three American cities so great, that we cannot play games with each other, cannot manipulate each other, we have to have an open and honest dialogue, and I found yesterday's statements at the press conference frankly very disturbing."
He condemned Bush's admission that in making last week's statement about Rumsfeld, he had known he was being misleading.
"It's inappropriate to cleverly come out the day after an election to do something we were told before the election would not be done," Gingrich said. "I think the timing was exactly backwards and I hope the President will rethink how he engages the American people and how he communicates with candor."