Mario, I think Kathryn is right on this. Rumsfeld should have gone earlier – or later. By pitching Rumsfeld overboard the day after the elections, Bush looked reactive and desperate.
Had Rumsfeld left earlier, it would have clearly signaled that he understood that Iraq was not going well and that he intended to take serious measure to fix the problem.
Had Rumsfeld left later (say around Thanksgiving) Bush would have had time to meet with such moderate Democratic leaders as Joe Lieberman and Steny Hoyer, to listen to them, to reflect on what they said and then to demonstrate that he was eager to work with them and willing to give them a SecDef with whom they would feel more comfortable.
As it is, Bush gave the lefty blogs and CNN another wonderful opportunity to call him a “liar” for saying last week that he expected Rumsfeld to stay with him when he was obviously contemplating change. (As Kathryn knows, I was on CNN last night, engaged in a rather ridiculous debate on this topic with a loony-left California radio talker and a rather embarrassed Michael Isikoff.)