Bush later clarified to say that he had not yet “visited” with Robert Gates when he made his last declaration that Rumsfeld would stay. Still, it seems clear that the decision for Rumsfeld to go was all but made at the time that Bush said he would stay.
After the visit with Gates, Bush said, Rumsfeld was going to go, whether or not Republicans won in yesterday’s elections. But of course White House officials knew Rumsfeld would be swamped in oversight if Democrats were to win even one house of Congress. Now that they appear to have both, that was a certainty, making Rumsfeld’s departure appear to be a decision to get out while there’s still time.
If confirmed by the Democratic Senate, Secretary of Defense Gates will be able to buy time for at least a few months, saying that he is trying to get a handle on things.