In The Washington Post, D.C. doyenne Sally Quinn speculates on Donald Rumsfeld's future and pretty much makes it official:
Vice President Cheney is not eager to replace him. And he would never fire Rumsfeld, who was his mentor and who hired him for three government jobs during the Ford administration, including as his deputy when Rumsfeld was chief of staff. (In fact, Cheney's Secret Service code name was "Back Seat.") In any event, Cheney is low-profile, secretive, nonconfrontational -- and presumably too experienced to allow himself to be easily made the scapegoat.
"And he would never fire Rumsfeld." I keep reading that over, sure that the caffeine just hasn't kicked in yet and when I read it again it'll be clear that Quinn means that Cheney, if he were in a position to make the decision, would never do this. But I can't find any evidence for that reading in Quinn's words.
To be fair, I should note that Quinn says this after saying, "Until now George W. Bush has resisted all of the pressure to get rid of his defense secretary." So she does believe that firing Rumsfeld would, in fact, be the president's job. But she also thinks it's Cheney's job -- perhaps his more than his (ostensible) boss's.
Not that we didn't know this.
(Quinn, by the way, thinks Rummy won't be fired after the mideterms, but "will resign to take a job in some sort of humanitarian venture." Whatever you say, Sally. Me, I think Rummy'll stay unless they need to pull Lieberman out of the Senate to regain a GOP majority.)