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GOP did little to head off election thumpin'
GOP did little to head off Election Day disaster.

 If Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld had left sooner, would the results have been different on Election Day?
HARAZ N. GHANBARI/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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RICHARD AMRHINE
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Date published: 11/19/2006

By Richard Amrhine

ANEIGHBOR ASKED me how I thought the election would have turned out if Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had been ousted before the election rather than after.

That's a good question. I'm sure Republicans across the country are repeating "hindsight is 20/20" in their sleep. Firing members of the Cabinet always makes an impact, and letting Rumsfeld go would have made a whopping October surprise that could have changed the course of the election.

Everyone on the planet saw this drubbing coming, but, as with Katrina, the administration did nothing of consequence as calamity closed in. Republicans did spend tons of money on eleventh hour television attack ads, and on automated phone calls that backfired. Oh, the administration also excised "stay the course" from its rhetorical phraseology. Talk about too little, too late.

President Bush went on a last-minute campaign-trail blitz that had GOP candidates sprinting the other way. That complemented Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove's "strategy" of offering smug, upbeat election forecasts, sounding like Chicken Little's alter ego: We are going to do everything in our power to ignore the fact that the sky really is falling.

It fell, all right--and it might have fallen on Rove, the man referred to as "Bush's brain." Hmmm.

As just about every election postmortem has revealed, the reasons for this GOP Election Day disaster were manifold, with the president's usual dumbbell demeanor high on the list. But in the end it all came down to Iraq. The administration failed to acknowledge that American voters demand accountability when their military men and women are dying abroad.

No one is saying that nearly 3,000 Americans have lost their lives in vain--but let's see some progress in the post-"mission accomplished" era.

Let's give the troops the opportunity to succeed, or at least articulate a feasible plan. Did we really think that once Saddam Hussein was deposed, Iraqis would be lining the streets tossing flowers to our troops? Maybe the president actually thought that.

The administration and party regulars have tried to confuse the issue, telling us that if we are against the war, we're failing to support our troops. That's a crock. The fact that Americans love their country, but keep a wary eye on their government and its policies, is what we're all about.

And that's what happened on Nov. 7.


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