After a quietly impressive career in government that has spanned more than 30
mostly Republican years, Robert Gates is suddenly seeming almost, well,
charismatic. He reeks authority. He is, according to several sources, the most
respected voice in National Security Council debates. The President is said to
love his unadorned manner. Much of which is attributable to the fact that, in
the self-proclaimed twilight of his public career, Gates has emerged as that
most exotic of Washington species — the bureaucrat unbound, candid and fearless.
He tells members of Congress what he really thinks about their pet programs. He
upends Pentagon priorities, demotes the military-industrial hardware pipeline
and promotes the immediate needs of the troops on the front line. He fires
high-ranking subordinates without muss or controversy — an Air Force secretary
and chief of staff who didn't agree with him on the need to end production of
the F-22 aircraft; the commandant of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, who
presided over disgraceful conditions; even a well-respected general like David
McKiernan, a conventional-warfare specialist unsuited for the asymmetrical
struggle in Afghanistan.
When, in a recent conversation, I noted that he
seemed gleefully outspoken these days, Gates offered a twinkly smile and said,
"What are they going to do, fire me?"
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Time Magazine writes about Sec. of Defense Gates, which supports Obama's reasoning in keeping him on: