| Hillary Clinton gets a hug from husband Bill Clinton at a rally in New York after winning her second term as New York Senator. (AFP)
Washington, Nov. 8: A stinging defeat for President George W. Bush and his Republican Party in America’s mid-term elections claimed its first victim today.
Defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the architect of the ill-starred invasion of Iraq in 2003, resigned and Bush announced the appointment of a successor, Robert Gates, who was director of the Central Intelligence Agency under Bush’s father from 1991 to 1993.
At a press conference to announce the choice of Gates, Bush said he wanted the Indo-US nuclear deal to be approved by the Senate, before a new Congress takes office in January next year.
Corruption investigations, teen-sex scandals, mayhem in Iraq and the quest for absolute power took a heavy toll of Bush’s unchallenged, nearly-seven-year rule last night.
Not a single sitting Democratic Party member of the US Senate or the House of Representatives lost the mid-term elections to the two chambers yesterday.
But Republicans lost 29 of their Congressmen and handed control of the 435-member House of Representatives to the Democrats after 12 years. In the Senate, control of the chamber was hanging by a thread for both parties. One result, which may be disputed and take days or even weeks to be finalised, will determine if Democrats can get a majority in the 100-member Senate.
The Democrats have secured 50 seats in this chamber and need the inconclusive result from Virginia in their column for an absolute majority.
Bush-led Republicans also lost grassroots control of the country. Democrats captured 20 of the 36 governorships in states, voting for which took place yesterday.
These included such high-profile states as New York, Ohio and Massachusetts, where Republicans were rejected by the electorate.
For the first time in 12 years, Democrats control a majority of gubernatorial mansions across America. They now have 28 governorships in all.
Former First Lady Hillary Clinton was swept into her second term in the Senate from New York. She got two-thirds of the total votes polled. The impressive win will strengthen her resolve to seek the presidential nomination in 2008.
Bush went to sleep as results from across the country, which has several time zones, were late in arriving. He woke up this morning to the reality of checks on his power and immediately invited Nancy Pelosi, leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, to lunch at the White House tomorrow.
Pelosi is expected to be the Speaker of the new House. In that capacity, she will be next in the line of succession to the White House, in case the president and the vice-president are unable to discharge their duties.
Edward Kennedy, the only surviving brother of assassinated President John F. Kennedy in politics, coasted to an easy victory in Massachusetts and will complete half a century as a Senator when his newly-elected term ends in 2012.
For former vice president Al Gore and Senator John Kerry, who lost to Bush in 2000 and 2004 respectively, the elections represented sweet revenge.
Two politicians, who certified Bush’s victory in those elections, were trounced yesterday. Bush’s victory in Florida in 2000 is still considered by many people here as unjust and rigged. His win in Ohio in 2004 is also considered by many as having been manipulated.
Ken Blackwell, Ohio’s top election official during the 2004 presidential poll, suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Democrats yesterday in his bid to be the state’s governor.
Congresswoman Katherine Harris, who declared Bush as the winner in Florida in 2000 and put him in the White House, similarly lost to Democrat’s incumbent Senator Bill Nelson.
Bush’s brother Jeb Bush lost his job as governor of Florida because of a rule that the state’s chief executive can only hold the office for two terms.
The president this morning invited Harry Reid, the leader of Democrats in the Senate and his deputy, Dick Durbin for coffee at the White House on Friday.
Except for a brief period in his first year in office, Bush has steamrolled his majority in Congress and treated the opposition like doormats during his stay in the White House since 2001. That is now bound to change.