For what it’s worth, I have heard a significant number of senior military types say that, once that gaggle of retired generals more or less demanded that the President fire Secretary Rumsfeld, W was put into a position where to do so would have undermined the concept of civilian leadership of the military. Even the appearance of caving into retired military officers (no one would buy the “more time with family line”) may seem like a small thing, but to even those who thought the SecDef had stayed beyond his shelf life, that line of reasoning carries great weight in the professional officer corps. It would have set a precedent (or created the perception of a precedent) and, well, the slippery slope argument then takes hold. I have to think it wasn’t the intent of the “revolting generals” to saddle the President with Rumsfeld–most, but not all, seemed sincere in their desire to put right what they think was out of whack in the Pentagon, but that was the effect. I see it as a good first step–I still recall Bill Clinton whining that he was “still relevant” following the REAL wave election of 1994. At least W is getting out in front on this, and putting the “bipartisan” marker down for the whole country to see.