Donald Rumsfeld made history yesterday when he stepped down as Secretary of Defense merely hours after mid-term elections shifted the power in the House to the Democrats. Students and professors watched as the president bid him farewell and then formed their own thoughts and opinions about his controversial resignation.
A substantial part of Rumsfeld’s six-year tenure as Secretary of Defense under President George Bush consisted of Middle Eastern military ventures. The current conflict in Iraq has become increasingly criticized by opponents, and the decision to step down came when even Republican congressmen started to disapprove of the war’s objectives. It is arguable that his resignation was directly caused by negative feedback of the war by the press and politicians.
“The mid-term elections came down to a vote against the Iraq war,” said assistant professor of sociology, Karen Douglas. “He was closely related to it. His tenure has been challenged in the past, but they stuck with him. The change in the House signaled a new direction to be taken by the administration.”
The mid-term elections serve as one of the main reasons for his resignation according to some Bearkats. The Democrats exceeded the necessary 15 seats in the House to earn the majority. Not even a full 24 hours later, President Bush was making a speech bidding the famed Secretary of Defense goodbye while introducing his next qualified choice for the position, 63-year-old Robert M. Gates.
“I think that after the Democrats won the majority in the House, Rumsfeld could see that none of his agenda would be served,” said Kristie Stevens, public relations major. “He probably thought he could accomplish more behind the scenes. We’re going to see some big changes in this country.”
While the bulk of students feel that Rumsfeld’s resignation is a positive thing, there are some that think there will be vulnerability within the country if Rumsfeld steps down during such a critical part of the war.
Junior Herman Harris believes that Rumsfeld had the right focus while managing the war in Iraq, but lacked the much-needed support of the American public to be successful in a foreign conflict.
“We are too deep into this right now for him to step down,” said Harris. “When a person takes over, they have to be in complete control and it’s too risky right now. When a new person takes over, they have their own game plan. Instead of looking at what the last person was trying to accomplish, they have their own ideas about what should be done. A transition of the Secretary of Defense at this time would make America too vulnerable.”
This week boasted several historical events in American history. The Democrats won majority in the House of Representatives for the first time in 12 years. Subsequently, Nancy Pelosi became the first female House Speaker. And to the nation’s surprise, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made the decision to step down after approximately six years in office not even one day after mid-term elections proved unrewarding for the Republican party. With so much happening politically in this country, students and faculty cannot help but become involved with political affairs.