Gates will stay put at DoD - For now

Barack Obama has decided to keep Robert Gates in his post as Defense Secretary, the first time a DoD chief will transition from one party's control of the White House to another.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Obama’s advisers were nearing a formal agreement with Mr. Gates to stay on for perhaps a year, the Democrats said, and they expected to announce the decision as early as next week, along with other choices for the national security team. The two sides have been working out details on how Mr. Gates would wield authority in a new administration.

The move will give the new president a defense secretary with support on both sides of the aisle in Congress, as well as experience with foreign leaders around the world and respect among the senior military officer corps. But two years after President Bush picked him to lead the armed forces, Mr. Gates will now have to pivot from serving the commander in chief who started the Iraq war to serving one who has promised to end it.

In deciding to ask Mr. Gates to stay, Mr. Obama put aside concerns that he would send a jarring signal after a political campaign in which he made opposition to the war his signature issue in the early days. Some Democrats who have advised his campaign quietly complained that he was undercutting his own message and risked alienating war critics who formed his initial base of support, especially after tapping his primary rival, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, for secretary of state.

Ed Lasky and I discussed Obama's picks last night on my radio show and we came to an agreement that the the new president has been reaching out to establishment figures and is willing to hold Gates over because he really doesn't have any firm ideological principles of his own. He pandered to so many groups during the election - came down on every side of every issue (even, as Ed pointed out, his opposition to the Iraq War - that it is clear his overarching principle was his devotion to his own ambition.

His proclivities may lean left - hard left. But as for any set of hard, ideological positions on issues, there is jello where there should be steel. This has allowed him to throw his far left supporters under the bus on his personnel choices. It will probably also allow him to alter some of his other positions  on taxes, the war, FISA, and a host of other issues he criticized Bush for.

The choice of keeping Gates is a good one. The DoD chief is competent, respected on the Hill, and has a good relationship with the brass. But watch for who he chooses as Gates' deputy. That individual will probably move up once Gates leaves sometime next year or early 2010.



Barack Obama has decided to keep Robert Gates in his post as Defense Secretary, the first time a DoD chief will transition from one party's control of the White House to another.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Obama’s advisers were nearing a formal agreement with Mr. Gates to stay on for perhaps a year, the Democrats said, and they expected to announce the decision as early as next week, along with other choices for the national security team. The two sides have been working out details on how Mr. Gates would wield authority in a new administration.

The move will give the new president a defense secretary with support on both sides of the aisle in Congress, as well as experience with foreign leaders around the world and respect among the senior military officer corps. But two years after President Bush picked him to lead the armed forces, Mr. Gates will now have to pivot from serving the commander in chief who started the Iraq war to serving one who has promised to end it.

In deciding to ask Mr. Gates to stay, Mr. Obama put aside concerns that he would send a jarring signal after a political campaign in which he made opposition to the war his signature issue in the early days. Some Democrats who have advised his campaign quietly complained that he was undercutting his own message and risked alienating war critics who formed his initial base of support, especially after tapping his primary rival, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, for secretary of state.

Ed Lasky and I discussed Obama's picks last night on my radio show and we came to an agreement that the the new president has been reaching out to establishment figures and is willing to hold Gates over because he really doesn't have any firm ideological principles of his own. He pandered to so many groups during the election - came down on every side of every issue (even, as Ed pointed out, his opposition to the Iraq War - that it is clear his overarching principle was his devotion to his own ambition.

His proclivities may lean left - hard left. But as for any set of hard, ideological positions on issues, there is jello where there should be steel. This has allowed him to throw his far left supporters under the bus on his personnel choices. It will probably also allow him to alter some of his other positions  on taxes, the war, FISA, and a host of other issues he criticized Bush for.

The choice of keeping Gates is a good one. The DoD chief is competent, respected on the Hill, and has a good relationship with the brass. But watch for who he chooses as Gates' deputy. That individual will probably move up once Gates leaves sometime next year or early 2010.