One of the first things that Obama did that angered me was to keep Robert Gates on as Defense Secretary. Of all the cabinet positions to put a Republican in, that is the worst. The Republicans have been (wrongly) hammering Democrats for being soft on the military for decades. So what was Obama saying other than, “I can’t find a Democrat as good for this job as this almost random (just happens to be the current office holder) Republican.” Now, I’m not an idiot. I know what Obama was trying to do; he was trying to “reach across the isle”; he was trying to show that he was open-minded. As I’ve pointed out, he was (and in many ways still is) a very naive politician.
But the thing is, I didn’t like Robert Gates under Bush and I didn’t like him under Obama. And now, he is out with a tell-all book about his time under those two presidents. I am not going to read Duty, of course. These kinds of books are always the most tired and useless things. Life is too short. But I have been really interested to hear what Gates had to say about Harry Reid because it is really unfair.
The biggest thing is that Harry Reid said that the surge in Iraq was a bad idea because the war was already lost. Gates thought this was treasonous. Well, this kind of thinking is exactly what I expect from a man like Gates. Yes, no one should ever be allowed to express a negative opinion about a war. But someone should be allowed to make a bunch of money writing a book that takes potshots at a sitting president and vice-president. I’ve got it: IOKIYAR.
The other thing is that Gates is mad at Reid because Reid asked him to put a study of “irritable bowel syndrome” into a military appropriations request. But this is how politics works. If Gates thinks that the Secretary of Defense is not a politician, then he is an idiot. In fact, anyone who claims that the top tier generals in the military are not politicians are totally ignorant of what they do.
Bret Stephens at the Wall Street Journal takes Gates to task, summing up the book, “Now he wants you to know he was offended, irritated, enraged, scandalized, ‘too old for this $%*&,’ and just plain itching to quit nearly every day he spent at the top.” But as he notes again and again, Gates didn’t step down. It isn’t like he needed the money; he’s valued at $5 million. As Stephens also notes, “Serving as secretary of defense, after all, isn’t really a duty; it’s an honor and a privilege.”
The only duty I see in Robert Gates is his duty to cash in even more on his government work.