Bob Gates is said to be a Condi Rice confidant, and a throwback to the foreign policy of the Bush 41 team. His selection appears to be a major coup for the Secretary of State. And a real blow to Dick"Full Speed Ahead" Cheney and the neo-cons.
This indeed represents a major change of course in the Iraq war. And weirdly it appears to be a big winner for both the President and the Congressional Democrats.
The President gets to appear responsive and decisive. Stay the Course really is out the window. But the Dems can rightly claim that their tsunami mandate forced this move.
Perhaps most important, it gives all parties time. Bush gets time to let Gates and the Baker commission time to fix this war. Democrats, having forced a change in course, are off the hook to some extent with having to come up with their own fix to this catastrophic war.
We're moving into a fresh start of shared responsibility on Iraq. For the out-now crowd, this is bad news. There's a new (year-long?) leash on this war. For leaving that country without creating a Rwanda With Oil, however, this change of leadership offers a glimmer of hope.