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the latest news on Rumsfeld’s resignation, election coverage and analysis, immigration, the Religious Right, and select editorials

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Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld steps down – “Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld resigned Wednesday within hours of a stunning Republican setback in nationwide midterm elections, a vote that became a referendum on President Bush’s strategy for the war in Iraq and on Rumsfeld’s stormy stewardship of the Pentagon.” Rumsfeld Resigns; Bush Vows ‘To Find Common Ground’; Focus Is on Virginia– “President Bush portrayed the election results as a cumulative “thumping” of Republicans and conceded that as head of the party, he bore some responsibility.” A Meek Departure From the War Cabinet – “Though Bush affectionately patted Rumsfeld on the shoulder as he ushered him out of the Oval Office, there was little sugarcoating the reality that the defense chief, 74, was being offered as a sacrificial lamb amid the repudiation of Bush and his Iraq policy.”

Election.Power shift in Washington – “The day after the historic midterm elections of 2006… leaders from both parties pledged to work together and avoid the intense partisanship of recent years.” Bush signals a shift toward bipartisanship – “President Bush strode into the East Room of the White House yesterday a humbled man. The nation, he acknowledged, had serious concerns about his war and his leadership.” Congress’ shift forces Bush to rethink– “From Iraq to immigration, Americans can expect a dramatically different approach to issues on Capitol Hill next year as Democrats reclaim control of Congress.” Bush is flexible on some issues – “What lies ahead, President Bush’s remarks suggested Wednesday, may be a two-sided presidency, one open to compromise on domestic legislation but committed to its basic strategy in Iraq and the war on terror.”For Bush’s New Direction, Cooperation Is The Challenge – “Tuesday’s electoral earthquake triggered an equally seismic reaction in Washington yesterday, one that signaled more clearly than ever that a politically humbled President Bush now agrees with a resurgent Democratic Party on the need for a change of course in Iraq.” The New House Majority Offers Bipartisanship — And an Ambitious Agenda – “Congressional Democrats savoring their return to power pledged yesterday to work closely with President Bush on a legislative agenda but demanded a change in course on Iraq and new directions on policies such as the minimum wage and stem cell research.”

House.America’s first Madam Speaker – “Vilified in Republican campaigns across the nation as a “San Francisco liberal,” Nancy Pelosi – the speaker presumptive of the 110th Congress – actually lives politics closer to her roots in the precincts and wards of Baltimore’s Democratic Party machine.” New Democrats Pose Challenge – “the new mosaic of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives — incoming lawmakers who will make a diverse group of political officeholders even more eclectic.”

Senate.Democrats close in on the Senate – “A day after discontent with the Iraq war prompted sweeping election defeats for the Republican Party, President Bush acknowledged voters had given him “a thumping” and said the chief architect of his military strategy, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, had resigned.” On the verge of a new agenda – “Senate Democrats began planning their return to power as the chamber’s majority, capping their party’s strong showing in the 2006 election by claiming victories in closely contested races in Montana and Virginia.”

Immigration. Bipartisan chance for immigration changes – “President Bush said that prospects for overhauling immigration laws had improved with the Democratic gains in the midterm election, holding out the hope of bipartisan cooperation.” Bush eyes Democrats for help on amnesty – “Bush yesterday said he will team up with Democrats to pass an immigration bill with a guest-worker program that his own party blocked this year, and his Republican opponents predicted a bloody intraparty fight but said they cannot stop such a bill from passing.”

Analysis. Democrats Turned War Into an Ally The parties’ contrasting reactions to the renewed violence in Iraq accounted for the breadth of a Democratic win.” The nation’s divide reemerges – “The realignment of U.S. politics accelerated Tuesday, as Democrats strengthened their hold over the Northeast and opened beachheads in the Midwest and Mountain West that could prove critical to winning the White House two years from now.” Political center is the true victor – “Results of the midterm elections suggest that the famous Karl Rove strategy of keeping power by energizing the GOP base with wedge issues may have outlived its usefulness. Democrats took control of the House and apparently the Senate, exit polls suggest, largely by running moderate candidates – and speaking to the concerns of disaffected independents and swing voters.”

Exit poll analysis.Religious Voting Data Show Some Shift, Observers Say – “Some liberal religious advocates proclaimed that the Democratic sweep showed that their party had succeeded in closing what they called the God Gap. But the results are more mixed than that, according to experts who analyze trends among religious voters.” The Smaller God Gap – “The religious coalition that Republicans had assembled — evangelical Christians, regular churchgoers, and Catholics — shrunk on Tuesday.” God Gap – “Catholics And Evangelicals Are Now Voting For Democrats – It’s finally time to retire that tiresome, inaccurate phrase “the God Gap,” so beloved by pollsters and commentators after the 2004 election.”

State ballot initiatives. Voters go for higher minimum wage, reject abortion limits – “voters in 37 states spoke loudly about a host of issues closer to home via 205 ballot initiatives. The measures covered a range of issues, from the year’s hot-button debates over eminent domain and gay marriage, to the perennial favorites of exactly how to tax and spend on everything from roads and bridges to education.” Anti-abortion measures fall, but neither side giving an inch – “Anti-abortion measures on three state ballots were roundly defeated this week, but advocates on both sides of what is arguably the nation’s most divisive social and political issue said Wednesday the battle is far from over.” Voters lean left on some ballot issues – “The political pendulum swung a bit to the left Tuesday, as voters for the first time rejected a ban on same-sex marriage and also endorsed embryonic stem-cell research and abortion rights.”

Religious Right. Losses jolt the religious right – “From the country’s heartland, voters sent messages that altered America’s culture wars and dismayed the religious right — defending abortion rights in South Dakota, endorsing stemcell research in Missouri, and rejecting a same-sex marriage ban in Arizona.” Conservative leaders plan a comeback – “Awaking to the dismal reality of widespread defeat, more than 100 of the conservative movement’s most ardent leaders gathered as they have every Wednesday for more than a decade in a downtown conference room to discuss strategy.” Republicans’ Angry Factions Point Fingers At Each Other – “After minutes upon minutes of soul-searching, Republicans are now in recrimination mode. And the GOP’s various factions all agree: This wouldn’t have happened if the party had listened to us.”

Iraq. In Iraq, New Calculations of the U.S. Role – “Iraq’s political leaders scrambled Wednesday to interpret what a sharply altered American political landscape might mean for the future of this war-ravaged country.” U.S. power shift worries Iraqi leaders – “Some fear that the Democrats will hasten the departure of American troops and stem the flow of funds.” Democrats’ victory unnerves Baghdad – “Across the capital Wednesday, Iraqis balanced their hopes against fears about how U.S. policy will change on the ground in the wake of the Democrats’ overwhelming victory in congressional elections and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s sudden resignation.”

Mideast . Israeli Shelling Kills 18 Gazans; Anger Boils Up– “Israeli tank shells killed 18 Palestinians, including 8 children and 6 women, at a cluster of houses here on Wednesday, one of the largest single losses of life in Gaza in years.” Nonviolence can work wonders – even in the Middle East – “It was an extraordinary gathering. For four days at the end of October, 60 people, most from the Middle East, came together here to discuss how concerted nonviolent action might defuse tensions and help bring peace to this war-blighted part of the world.”

Darfur. Chad says Darfur violence widening – – “Chad’s government says that ethnic violence in Sudan’s Darfur region is spilling across the border, sparking deadly Arab-African fighting among Chadians.”

Iran. Russia seeks to calm Europe on Iran nuclear arms – “Russia has reassured European envoys it is committed to ensuring that Iran does not make nuclear bombs, even though Moscow has gutted a draft UN resolution on sanctions against Tehran, diplomats said yesterday.”

Op-Eds. Facing Up to Reality – “Never was a political wipeout better advertised in advance than the one that hit the Republican Party on Tuesday and cost Don Rumsfeld his job. From the first of my pol
itical soundings in the Midwest in early spring, it was clear that the public’s frustration with the war in Iraq, the inept performance of the Bush administration after Hurricane Katrina, and the stunning partisanship and tawdriness of the Republican Congress was reaching explosive levels.” (David Broder, Washington Post) Meeting at The Middle – “It’s over. American voters, in their wisdom, ended an era on Tuesday. They rejected a poorly conceived war policy in Iraq that has weakened the United States. They rejected a harshly ideological approach to politics that cast opponents as enemies of the country’s survival.” (By E. J. Dionne Jr., The Washington Post)

Editorials. Exit strategy, post-Rumsfeld (Los Angles Times) – “More than two years after Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld offered to resign in the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, President Bush finally agreed to let him go. That could lead to more profound policy changes – if Bush (and Cheney) are willing.” The nation’s new warrior (Chicago Tribune) – “In recent weeks, the phrase “stay the course” has dropped from President Bush’s political vocabulary. He has acknowledged mistakes in Iraq and admitted that he does not have unlimited patience for the war. On Tuesday, voters across the country clearly expressed their growing impatience with the administration’s war strategy.” Rumsfeld’s Departure (New York Times)- The challenge for Donald Rumsfeld’s chosen successor will be to bring home to the president how desperate the situation has become in Iraq and to see that the war’s conduct from here on is dictated by reality, not ideology.”

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