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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 November 2006, 01:01 GMT
Press reacts to Rumsfeld departure
Former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
Mr Rumsfeld had a stormy relationship with the media

The sudden resignation of US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld provoked varied reactions from the US media, parts of which have treated the embattled Pentagon chief as a favourite punch-bag for many months.

The New York Times said Mr Rumsfeld had to go "simply because he failed at his job".

"Whatever this election accomplished - and it remains to be seen if it ended the rancour and distrust that define current American politics - voters made it crystal clear that they want a change in direction in Iraq," the paper said in an editorial.

"Democratic and Republican leaders alike agreed that it had to begin with replacing Donald Rumsfeld.

"President Bush showed that he had heard the second half of that message and finally rid himself of the man whose bad judgements and inept leadership had done so much to create the mess in Iraq. But it still was not clear that he has yet heard the first, and more important part of the message."

The paper adds: "Mr Rumsfeld's departure is merely the first step. It has to be followed by a major change in policy if American troops can be brought home without leaving a disaster behind."

'Liability to president'

Writing on the Time magazine website, correspondent James Carney argues: "If Bush had acted sooner, he might have helped the GOP when it mattered. More importantly, by starting to change Iraq policy, he might have saved lives."

Secretary Rumsfeld, a pugnacious former wrestler and fighter pilot, has long been a symbol of intransigence to the administration's critics
Christian Science Monitor

"Well before the Army Times and Marine Times called for his resignation - even before John McCain declared he had lost confidence in Rumsfeld - the brash secretary of defence had lost almost all his allies inside the White House.

"Just the mention of his name would cause aides to the president to grind their teeth and roll their eyes. He had become a liability to the president, and his advisers knew it and resented it.

For the Christian Science Monitor, Mr Rumsfeld's resignation may not mark a change of policy in Iraq, but "may have changed the tone of Washington's debate".

"It's not yet clear whether Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld chose to leave on his own, or whether he was pushed," writer Peter Grier says.

"It's quite possible that it was a mutual decision, as Mr Bush implied... But Secretary Rumsfeld, a pugnacious former wrestler and fighter pilot, has long been a symbol of intransigence to the administration's critics.

"Now, newly empowered Democrats won't have him to kick around during any oversight hearings into the preparation for, and conduct of, the Iraq conflict."

'He served America'

The Fox news website also highlighted Mr Rumsfeld's "tempestuous relationship with the media as well as Democrats on Capitol Hill and even some military officials in Washington".

"He seemed more subdued than usual," Fox said. "But [he] demonstrated his irascible nature by paraphrasing the late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. 'I have benefited greatly from criticism, and at no time have I suffered a lack thereof,' he said."

For Rich Noyes, of the NewsBusters blog - which bills itself as combating "liberal media bias" - Mr Rumsfeld's departure meant the media "losing a favourite punching bag".

"With Donald Rumsfeld now on his way out as secretary of defence, some liberal media types are undoubtedly grinning from ear to ear, for they have made their antipathy to Rumsfeld very well known," Noyes wrote.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Free Press sought reaction from US war veterans - including Jerry Newberry, of Veterans of Foreign Wars group based in Kansas City.

"No one should question his patriotism or his love of country," said Newberry, who fought in Vietnam.

"He served our nation during a very difficult time in our history and for that, America should be grateful."






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