Thursday, November 09, 2006

Democrats Comment on Rumsfeld Resignation

Here's a collection of comments from leading Democrats on the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld:

Presumptive Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)

“By accepting the Secretary of Defense’s resignation, President Bush has taken a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, the course in Iraq cannot be changed solely by changing personnel. We also need a change in policy, if this resignation is to mean anything for our troops or for the Iraqi people.

“Senate Democrats look forward to carefully considering the nomination of Robert Gates. He's a seasoned public servant who will get an expeditious and thorough hearing. If confirmed, we look forward to working with him and the President to change course in Iraq. Across the country Tuesday, Americans demanded a new way forward. Democrats stand ready to work with the President and his new Secretary of Defense to deliver it. We've called for the President to host a bipartisan Iraq summit. I hope the President will heed that call. It is time to put aside the partisanship and do what the American people have asked. We must change course in Iraq.”

Presumptive Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

“I welcome the long overdue change in leadership at the Pentagon – now we need a change in policy. Secretary Rumsfeld has lost the confidence of his most crucial constituency: the men and women of our armed forces who rely on the civilian leadership of the Pentagon to provide them with the support needed to do their dangerous jobs as effectively and safely as possible. Mr. Rumsfeld failed to do that – that is why I called for him to step down nearly three years ago.

“A new direction on Iraq is also long overdue. I hope the departure of Mr. Rumsfeld will mark a fresh start toward a new policy in Iraq, signaling a willingness on the part of the President to work with the Congress to devise a better way forward. Our troops deserve no less.

“Mr. Gates has a great deal of experience on national security matters. The Senate will need to review his credentials closely to determine if he is the right person to serve as Secretary of Defense at this critical time.”

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

“This election has already had an impact on foreign policy. Without Rumsfeld we have a chance to move forward in a bipartisan fashion to find a political solution.

“History will not judge Donald Rumsfeld kindly.”

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI)

"I welcome President Bush’s decision to accept Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s resignation. If it were up to me he would have been gone a long time ago. But Secretary Rumsfeld’s departure is only a small step in fixing the larger problem that stems from the President's failed Iraq policy.

"The President has continually refused to change our current approach in Iraq despite a growing number of policymakers and experts, including many Republicans, advocating for a change of course. And the President has refused to acknowledge the devastating consequences of an indefinite military presence in Iraq. As I have argued for over a year, a timetable for the redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq will help pressure the Iraqis to get their political house in order and will help the U.S. military refocus on defeating global terrorist networks."

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)

“Secretary Rumsfeld’s departure is long overdue. Donald Rumsfeld was a major architect of our failed policies in Iraq and his leadership at the Pentagon had been challenged by Republicans and Democrats alike and members of the military of all ranks.

“Yesterday, the American people spoke with a clear voice about their dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq and voted for change. Now, they want accountability and results at home and in Iraq.

“I look forward to meeting with Robert Gates, who has been nominated to take up the challenge of leading the Department of Defense when our nation is at war. My hope is that Mr. Gates will bring his experience on the Iraq Study Group to bear and will examine our situation in Iraq with fresh eyes. If Robert Gates is confirmed, he must implement a plan to transfer responsibility for the security of Iraq to the Iraqis so our troops can come home – a plan that Secretary Rumsfeld has failed to execute while at the Pentagon.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

“The resignation of Secretary Rumsfeld is welcome and could represent a significant shift in direction by this Administration. I hope it opens the door to fresh ideas on Iraq. Last night, the American people made their view clear that there needs to be change in Iraq policy. It seems that the message was received. I only wish it had been sooner.

Secretary Rumsfeld was stubborn and arrogant. He did not listen. He did not change course when it was apparent that a new path was needed. Secretary Rumsfeld presided over a failed policy in Iraq. The borders were not secured. The munitions dumps were left unguarded. There was no follow-on force. There were not enough troops. This was the recipe for the chaos and violence that has ensued."

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

"Stay the course long ago proved a failure as a policy in Iraq. The American people have signaled the need for a new direction, and it is encouraging that the President may be starting to recognize the need for change."

Senator Barack Obama (D-IL)

"Last night, the American people sent an overwhelming message to Washington that it's time to change our failed course in Iraq, and today's resignation of Donald Rumsfeld is a belated step in the right direction," said Obama. "But to truly end the ideological mismanagement of this war, we must replace not just a person, but a strategy, and that will take the work of both Democrats and Republicans finding common ground and common solutions in the weeks to come."

Senator-elect Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

"2006 is about change in Ohio, and Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation is a necessary step in ensuring a new direction in Washington. I look forward to working in a bipartisan manner in the Senate to come up with a winning exit strategy that begins redeployment of our troops over the next two years."

Update: This statement just out from Congressman John Murtha (D-PA):

"The Military lost confidence in Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Our troops and their families who have personally endured the burden of this war for so long deserve an achievable plan, and one that is based on redeploying U.S. military forces from Iraq. It was absolutely necessary to bring in a fresh face and I think Bob Gates will actually listen to the military.

"But, at the press conference yesterday, I was disappointed to hear the same old rhetoric coming from the President. He did not speak about a change of policy in Iraq. Changing the Secretary does not change the policy and the policy is set by the White House. We need a change in Iraq that is based on redeployment because that is what is best for America."