Still, the president must be aware on some level that once the pugnacious, outspoken and flak-attracting Rumsfeld leaves the stage, the focus will be on the president. Whether Bush realizes it or not, this is about a scapegoat.
In the Bible, the high priest would transfer the sins of the people onto a goat, and, as it was written, "the goat shall carry all the sins of the people into a land where no one lives, and the man shall let it loose in the wilderness."
(The word for scapegoat in Hebrew means, literally, "into hell.")
Rumsfeld has seen others take on the role of scapegoat. Look what happened to Nancy Reagan. When she was first lady, she rightly realized that Donald Regan, the chief of staff, was causing her husband enormous damage. What she hadn't realized was that Regan was filling the role of scapegoat for the president. When Don Regan was finally fired, Nancy herself was made the scapegoat. She then took the brunt of criticism for the errors of her husband's administration.
It is hard for the American people to turn completely against the president. It seems tantamount to patricide. We're much more comfortable being able to blame someone else for the president's mistakes. Laura Bush will never be the scapegoat. For now, it's Rumsfeld.
The problem with trying to make real people scapegoats is that they can talk. It is doubtful that Rumsfeld would go quietly into the wilderness.