RUMSFELD STEPPING DOWN WILL SPIN DEMS' WAY. Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld 's resignation will spin very much to the Democrats advantage vis-a-vis the midterms. That is to say, all those talking heads on cable news saying that the Dems won on the strength of moderate and socially conservative candidates will not be able to spout that canard much longer. Clearly the Bush administration recognizes the midterm results as a rebuke of their Iraq War policy. The Democrats, even the relatively conservative ones who won in red states and districts, from Chris Carney in PA-10 to (presumably) Jim Webb in VA ran against the Iraq War. If Bush is drawing the appropriate lesson from the midterms (politically, if not in actual policy terms--that remains to be seen) then his lackeys like Barnes and Kristol and the "non-partisan" talking heads probably will have too as well. --Ben Adler

    WHAT WALL IS THAT? In his post-election press conference, the president announced that he will nominate former CIA Director Robert Gates to replace Rummy as defense secretary. This is the guy who, while working as chief spook for Daddy Bush, completely missed the signs of the disintegration of the Soviet empire, and was taken totally by surprised by the citizen dismantling of the Berlin Wall. Wow -- Bush sure is sounding cranky at this press conference. And he seems to have admitted to lying to reporters when he told "one of these three characters" that Rummy would be staying on. His excuse? "I hadn't yet met with his replacement." --Adele M. Stan

    EARLY GATES FACTOIDS. This is comforting. Some quick googling on Robert Gates turned up this bit of criticism from committed neocon and prominent Iran hawk Michael Rubin : Rather than inject a "new approach" to U.S. strategy, the Baker-Hamilton Commission's recommendations resurrect the old. In May 2001, Hamilton co-chaired an Atlan tic Council study group that called on Washington to adopt a "new approach" to Iran centered on engagement with Tehran. And, in 2004, Baker-Hamilton Commission member Robert M. Gates co-chaired another study group that called for a "new approach" toward Iran consisting of engagement. So the new Secretary of Defense doesn't favor launching ill-advised and counterproductive wars on Middle Eastern countries? That's, uh, terrible. --Ezra Klein

    GENTLEMEN, START YOUR GOOGLING. I'm actually fairly confident that Bush nominee Robert Gates will make it through a stiffened Senate gauntlet. Still, he doesn't necessarily have clean hands, as the index from the Walsh report on Iran-Contra indicates: Gates, Robert M. -- chapter on, 223-232 ; 8, 16, 19, 22, 23, 46, 73, 109, 115, 130, 166, 170, 200, 205, 210, 211, 213-216, 221, 233, 237, 277, 315, 316, 318-323, 509 Gates was Deputy Director of Intelligence from 1982-1986. Start Googling! --Blake Hounshell

    BUSH PRESSER. Rumsfeld is resigning, and Bush has nominated former CIA director and current head of Texas A&M to replace him. Spackerman , who's scratching ink marks into dead tree pulp rather than using a wifi enabled laptop, passed along this insta-reaction: "Bob Gates is James Baker 's best friend. Bush has effectively gotten Baker with getting Baker." --Ezra Klein

    RUMSFELD STEPPING DOWN. Just announced. --Sam Rosenfeld

    ECONOMICS AND THE BLACK VOTE. Conor Clarke has a very good piece at TNR making a should-be-obvious-but-totally-isn't argument about why African Americans continue to vote for Democrats: because Democratic policy serves the economic interests of African Americans . Who'da thunk it? --Sam Rosenfeld

    HEWITT, HIS COMMENTERS, AND DISILLUSION. This is hilarious . --Sam Rosenfeld

    BACK TO THE CLOWN SHOW. The defeat of South Dakota's abortion ban is evidently good news on the merits, and will also hopefully put to rest the ideas that abortion criminalization necessarily represents popular majorities. Even in one of the most conservative states in the country, an even minimally consistent (and the South Dakota legislation still flinched when it came to applying legal sanctions to women who were purportedly guilty of a serious crime) pro-life position is a political loser. What this means, alas, is a return to unprincipled abortion regulation that attempts to roll back abortion access through the back door. Appropriately enough, today the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Gonzales cases, which concerns the constitutionality of federal legislation banning so-called "partial birth" abortions. Nothing represents the extent to which the American "pro-life" movement is reduced to empty symbolism and intellectual dishonesty than these ridiculous laws. I will...

    WHAT COUNTERMOBILIZATION? Remember all the speculation about how the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision requiring civil unions was going to create a major, pro-Republican backlash because the courts were "getting ahead of the people"? Strange how we're hearing less about that today, now that this seems to have had about as much impact on the election as the botched Kerry joke that obsessed the conservative blogosphere but apparently not the electorate. At any rate, this should be yet another reminder that arguments about litigation inherently generating greater levels of opposition than other forms of policy change are generally characterized by a surfeit of assertion and a paucity of evidence . --Scott Lemieux