Many of us have been wondering for quite a while whether Bush 41 would step in to save Bush 43 from his own foolishness. As a father I can understand the reluctance. You want your children to step out on their own, to be self-reliant, to be their own people. But sometimes, even when they have become chronological adults, the temptation to step in when they do something really off-the-wall can be overwhelming. When your son is president of the United States and is harming the country and the party, it can seem like a necessity.
The senior Bush has said since Dubya was electred that he doesn't interfere and he doesn't offer advice unless asked. And there has long been a sense that Dubya was in some ways rebelling against the old man. Bush senior didn't like Don Rumsfeld much back in the 1970s and he probably doesn't like him much now. But the Bushlet nominated him and stuck with him through all kinds of criticism and calls for his resignation. (Here's an assessment from Karen Kwiatkowski, who served in the Pentagon for a couple of years under Rumsfeld before retiring from the Air Force.)
It has been obvious from Day One that many of Senior's people -- Brent Scowcroft most vocally -- were skeptical about the Iraq war, and it has seemed unlikely that Senior himself wasn't concerned. I had it from a good source -- and should have blogged Wednesday I guess, but work was pretty hectic that day -- that the resignation of Rumsfeld to be replaced by Gates was a Senior operation, initiated at least a week ago and overseen by Jim Baker, the longtime Bush family consigliere.
The question is whether this change will mean a change in policy. Gates has his own baggage -- Iran-Contra suspicions and all -- and he has mainly been a loyal family retainer. But if this was a rescue operation, it's likely the Iraq Study Group, headed by James Baker and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton, will come up with something reasonably dramatic -- perhaps partition along sectarian/ethnic lines -- and the Bushlet will adopt it, saying this was what he had in mind all along.