There's a rush of new articles out this afternoon which, at first blush, make me think Don Rumsfeld is finished.
An article in Reuters has a Republican senate staffer saying this about what Rumsfeld needs to do to keep his job ...
A Senate Republican aide said Rumsfeld must "give the performance of his life," and show contrition.
"He needs to have full disclosure of the facts, no parsing of words or displaying the usual convoluted testimony that the Senate Armed Services Committee has been accustomed to," the Republican aide said.
As far as people losing their jobs goes, political storms have two phases: a dynamic phase and an equilibrium phase. The first comes right after the revelation when everything is influx and the person <$Ad$>on the line is wholly embattled. Usually, and always if the person in question is to survive, you then reach a point of equilibrium where the person's defenders find some point, some firm ground, on which they feel they can defend him.
If that second stage doesn't kick in quickly the person is almost always finished. In virtually every case, what does someone in is not an abundance of critics but a lack of defenders.
One thing that makes Rumsfeld more vulnerable is that he's already lost what was once a key pillar of support: hawks and neocons. Just recently, Bill Kristol and Bob Kagan wrote a piece in the Weekly Standard that all but called on Bush to fire Rumsfeld.
For all these reasons it's difficult for me to see where Rumsfeld's equilibrium comes from. Yet there's an added political question.
Let's say Rumsfeld resigns on Friday. The election is still six months away. And the nation is at war. So a new Defense Secretary would be needed more or less immediately. That would open up a very uncomfortable prospect for the administration.
Confirmation hearings for a new Sec Def would, I think, inevitably turn into a national forum for discussing the management of the Pentagon, the planning for the war and the lack of planning for the occupation. The new nominee would be drawn into all sorts of uncomfortble public second-guessing of what's happened up until this point. Sure, that's stuff under Rumsfeld. But, really, it's stuff under Bush -- the civilian head of the United States military.
That, I have to imagine, is something the White House would like to avoid at any cost.