Around 1pm Eastern the day after the election, while Democrats were still celebrating their victories, Bush made a sudden announcement of the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. To many, this was icing on the cake of a good election. Many missed the larger picture.

Democrats largely did not campaign on any issues. Even their “New Direction” was nothing that voters really cared about. One of the things they did promise and do intend to make good on is to investigate the Bush Administration, from Katrina (likely “finding” racism instead of fault where it belongs), to Iraq, to… Big Tobacco???

The key issue to be investigated is obviously Iraq and everyone knows it. The Democrats will likely waste no time in beginning the investigation so Bush launched a preemptive strike before the Democrats finished their celebrations. The strategy of the Bush Administration will likely to move forward and find new avenues for success in Iraq. Rumsfeld leaving is the obvious side-effect of this policy shift.

Two months from now when the Democrats start asking for investigation after investigation, Bush can say “I’m trying to move forward in Iraq and shift policy so we can achieve success and all the Democrats want to do is dredge up the past and yet still provide no alternatives of their own.”

Bush is establishing a defense by making the investigations moot. If heads have already rolled, the Democrats will likely be seen as beating a dead horse. This will put them in a difficult position, one where their most vocal camps will insist that Bush be made to suffer and the nation be dragged through the mud for 6 years and the less vocal camps who will be turned off by such antics. It’s telling that the races where the war was the central issue, the militant left fringe lost.

Bush made a good play and is keeping his eye on the ball (2008). Will the Democrats be as wise?

John Bambenek is the Assistant Politics Editor for Blogcritics and is an academic professional for the University of Illinois. He is a columnist for the Daily Illini and blogs at Part-Time Pundit deep from the corn fields of Illinois. He is the current owner of BlogSoldiers, a blog-only traffic exchange.

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