The announcement has been made that it looks as though Defense Secretary Robert Gates is going to be staying on in the Obama Administration for at least the next year. There are many among us on the left and in the anti-war crowd who have not been at all pleased with this turn of events.
But as I see it – and I believe I’ve made this point somewhere along the line in the past – you can’t expect a new Sec Def to swoop in and move one hundred and forty thousand troops out of Iraq in a year without huge problems. I mean, you couldn’t even unpack a box before you started planning the withdrawal, and it would likely be a disaster no matter who you were. I think that if you’re serious about your pledge to get troops out of Iraq in the next eighteen months, you have to maintain some sense of continuity in the military hierarchy to do that. Of course, my years of working as a Secretary of Defense((that would be zero years, for you keeping track)) don’t lend themselves to an educated opinion on the matter.
Besides which, I think anyone whose been paying attention knows that Robert Gates has been as forthcoming as any member of the Bush Administration with Congress and the public. That’s not saying a lot, I grant. But it seems like he’s more sure of himself and less inclined to stonewall for the sake of his personal reputation alone. I think that, with a new president of the same party as the majority in the Congress, you will probably see much more candor going forward. That’s just a guess.
And its a damned shame that we can’t do the same with the economic team, but goddamn. I’ve never seen a guy fall so far so fast as has Hank Paulson. Ben Bernanke just seems like a putz lately, too. These are two guys I know from watching Wall Street Week for years, and I’ve been nothing short of shocked to watch them crumble in the face of this crisis. So, on that level, we need new leadership.