Robert Gates is the latest example of how President Bush turns to his dad's network to patch things up
Bush hopes that removing Rumsfeld will mute criticism of his Iraq policy and give the Democrats and the public some evidence that he is willing to seriously consider alternatives. In the meantime, he and his advisers hope the situation improves on the ground so there will be less pressure to pull out.
Beyond that, the administration will probably have an easier time with the patient and amiable Gates rather than the brittle and confrontational Rumsfeld in dealing with the expected blizzard of subpoenas and oversight hearings by Democrat-controlled committees in Congress. Gates can always say he wasn't part of the earlier decision making and slip the questions.
What's more, the close Gates-Rice working relationship on the Bush 41 National Security Council staff holds out the prospect of repairing what had been an often dysfunctional relationship between the Pentagon and the State Department during the Rumsfeld years.
It wasn't the first time that Bush asked Gates to sign up. The former CIA director was asked to serve as deputy secretary of state and, on another occasion, as director of national intelligence. But he turned down both job offers, telling friends that neither assignment would have given him enough authority or autonomy. It remains to be seen whether Bush will really give him the kind of power he wants as head of defense.