Report: Obama’s aides urging him to retain Gates as SecDef

posted at 7:29 pm on June 28, 2008 by Allahpundit

A fine idea, fraught with political peril.

In defiance of traditional party labels, Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, may ask the defence secretary of President George W Bush to stay on if he wins the White House.

Obama’s top foreign policy and national security advisers are pressing the case for keeping Robert Gates at the Pentagon after he won widespread praise for his performance. The move would be in keeping with Obama’s desire to appoint a cabinet of all the talents…

Richard Danzig, an adviser to Obama on national security and a former navy secretary, said: “My personal position is Gates is a very good secretary of defence and would be an even better one in an Obama administration.”…

Gates recently said Obama and John McCain, his Republican rival, were likely to take a “sensible approach” to Iraq because “the next president would suffer the greatest consequences if we do get the endgame wrong”. Retaining Gates would give Obama “cover” for adjusting his policy if necessary, while reassuring Republicans that withdrawing from Iraq would not imperil national security.

I remember some lefty blogger arguing a week or two ago when this first popped up that the Dems can’t afford to have a Republican at the top of the chain of command lest it reinforce the impression that only conservatives can be trusted with war. Fair point, except of course that it’s not war that’s on Obama’s agenda; it’s withdrawal, and per the boldfaced part, having a prominent Republican in charge of it would actually help undo the perception that the left alone is responsible for retreat. Lefty blogger Spencer Ackerman made the same argument a few months ago about why they should welcome Petraeus’s promotion to Centcom commander — not because it’d improve our chances of winning in the Middle East, but because having someone at the reins who’s held in esteem by the right would be useful as political cover when the great drawdown begins. As such, the question is whether Gates, knowing what Obama has in mind, should refuse to stay on to avoid being turned into a political prop. I say no: If he thinks he can do some good, even with a task as unseemly as that, it’s reason enough to continue. He wouldn’t have to stay long, either. Clinton had three Defense Secretaries in his two terms (one a Republican), and no doubt Obama would want Gates replaced with a Dem at some point after withdrawal begins or even ends to address the concern articulated by the lefty blogger. Exit question: Should he stay if asked, and should Obama ask him?


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I took it as a gesture that Obama needs to recognize progress in Iraq and the way to do that is withdraw the troops but keep the leaders.

Its declare victory and leave rather than just declaring defeat.

William Amos on June 28, 2008 at 7:32 PM

I’d stay, then resign in protest once Obama does something foolish.

Lehosh on June 28, 2008 at 7:34 PM

I don’t know how Obama could convince anyone to work for his administration if elected. Obama’s consistent habit of tossing others under the bus the first time the waters get a little choppy would seem to cause competent professionals pause over an Obama administration job.

Hog Wild on June 28, 2008 at 7:36 PM

A quick tidbit,just remember how
the Left treated,General Patreuas!!!

canopfor on June 28, 2008 at 7:43 PM

I’d stay, then resign in protest once Obama does something foolish.

Lehosh on June 28, 2008 at 7:34 PM

Yes – and that would allow someone like Gates to leave, before he would become such a prop/scapegoat… while being able to do things right ahead of such a time.

knob on June 28, 2008 at 7:44 PM

Remember that Gates was opposed to going into Iraq and also, as part of the Iraqi Study Group, opposed to the surge.

So, Gates provides him some political and military cover in several areas.

SteveMG on June 28, 2008 at 7:46 PM

Obama just wants a scapegoat if another 9/11 happens. If there’s no major terrorist attack on the U.S. after one year Obama will toss Gates under the bus.

Tinian on June 28, 2008 at 7:48 PM

If Obama wins and if he asked him, Sec. Gates would be hard pressed to say “no.” At least for a year or so.

I’m hoping Obama doesnt win and McCain considers asking Gates to stay for little while.

Mike D. on June 28, 2008 at 7:56 PM

He won’t do it. This is misdirection to sway the undecided.

rockhauler on June 28, 2008 at 7:58 PM

Well,this is a bit telling,and remember,Republican
nominee John McCain is”Country First” as per latest
election ad!

And for Liberal nominee,Its CYA first,then party,then
country!

Gates comments;

“the next president would suffer the greatest consequences
if we do not get this endgame right.”

Retaining Gates would give Obama “COVER” for adjusting his
policy if necessary.

So,to be fair,Gates comments were directed at McCain as well,however,McCain will put country first,

And Obama,will “COVER” his !ss first,then his country!

And don’t forget,Obama has a nasty habit of throwing people
under da Barack’s Magic Bus!!

canopfor on June 28, 2008 at 8:01 PM

So does this mean Obama is going to throw Wesley Clark under the bus too?

Texas Gal on June 28, 2008 at 8:01 PM

Wouldn’t that make Hussein’s administration a third term for Bush?

Akzed on June 28, 2008 at 8:01 PM

Nah, it’ll be Mr. Murtha.

Entelechy on June 28, 2008 at 8:02 PM

I think Obama just admitted there is not one Democrat qualified to be defense secretary.

William Amos on June 28, 2008 at 8:03 PM

Gates would only stay if he was certain that his plan … sucess in Iraq … would be THE PLAN … success in Iraq.

That man ain’t hurtin’ for a job!!

Texas Gal on June 28, 2008 at 8:03 PM

it’s withdrawal, and per the boldfaced part, having a prominent Republican in charge of it would actually help undo the perception that the left alone is responsible for retreat.

That assumes hid take the job knowing Obama’s goal.

TheBigOldDog on June 28, 2008 at 8:04 PM

Wouldn’t that make Hussein’s administration a third term
for bush?

Akzed on June 28,2008 at 8:01PM.

Akzed:SShhhhhhhhh,not to loud,the internet walls have ears,
Michelle Obama (Omama)might hear you critizing Obama!
Haha—:)

canopfor on June 28, 2008 at 8:07 PM

Just about anyone will seem like a genius as long as the public remember how bad Rumsfeld and the original crew messed things up in the first place.

lexhamfox on June 28, 2008 at 8:07 PM

William Amos on June 28, 2008 at 8:03 PM

I think both you and AP are correct. Considering the pandering, and that fact that BHO is by no means a stupid man, it makes sense to pursue the logical course (we are already winning and therefore withdrawing), but be able to deflect ‘staying the course’ blame from left-wing lunacy by keeping an R in the position. Win-win.

James OK on June 28, 2008 at 8:12 PM

ooooops,good grief,I ka-botched Gates comments,
that should be “if we do get the endgame wrong”,
and not”if we do get the endgame right”
apologies to Gates!

canopfor on June 28, 2008 at 8:16 PM

He won’t keep him. The dem’s would go wild. He will appoint a neutered guy. MY personal rave fav is Murtha.

thatcher on June 28, 2008 at 8:27 PM

The Kos Kidz would flip out!

Jim-Rose on June 28, 2008 at 8:34 PM

I think if he wants an “R” in the position Hagel will suit his purposes for cover and change.

yakwill83 on June 28, 2008 at 8:35 PM

If Obama wins and if he asked him, Sec. Gates would be hard pressed to say “no.” At least for a year or so.

I disagree. It all depends on what Obama intends to do to the military and whether that fits Gates’ vision or not.

highhopes on June 28, 2008 at 8:39 PM

yakwill83 on June 28, 2008 at 8:35 PM

What BHO wants is cover, not change. We are winning, and that is money in the bank if he’s elected president.

What he’s looking for with this is CYA with the nutroots, and an easy pander to undecided voters who support the surge and want to succeed in Iraq.

James OK on June 28, 2008 at 8:39 PM

Should he stay if asked, and should Obama ask him?

Having deep admiration for the former CIA Director and current SECDEF, the answer is yes – by either McCain or (heaven forbid!) Obama until it becomes plainly obvious the latter wants to gut the Pentagon like Clinton did the CIA and no for Obama, yes for McCain.

HotAirJosef on June 28, 2008 at 8:46 PM

Obama seems keen on fighting in Afghanistan, and in 2009, that is where the primary focus of CENTCOM will be.

bnelson44 on June 28, 2008 at 8:55 PM

The lefties that marvel at Obama’s Lightworkerishness continue to gloss over his flip-flops and general shift towards the center. But could they really overlook Obama keeping that Evil McChimpy BusHitlerburton’s SecDef on for another gig?

I can’t wait to see their pupils dilate trying to process that dissonance.

innominatus on June 28, 2008 at 8:58 PM

I think if he wants an “R” in the position Hagel will suit his purposes for cover and change.

yakwill83 on June 28, 2008 at 8:35 PM

That makes sense. Sort of like Clinton & Cohen. Obama would certainly like a Republican SecDef to blame if things went south in his first year.

Tinian on June 28, 2008 at 9:03 PM

Exit question: Should he stay if asked, and should Obama ask him?

So I’d make the point:

Is Obama running for Bush’s third term?

lorien1973 on June 28, 2008 at 9:04 PM

Obama is running for Carters third term and you won’t like that!

old trooper on June 28, 2008 at 9:35 PM

LOL

SouthernGent on June 28, 2008 at 10:01 PM

Gates is outstanding, I wish we had him the whole time.

Squid Shark on June 28, 2008 at 10:20 PM

I doubt Gates would want to preside over the dismantling of the Defense Dept. that Obama is planning.

CP on June 28, 2008 at 10:26 PM

Er, I know he and his supporters think he’s the President already, but wouldn’t that discussion be a bit premature? I mean, Democrats understand that he does have to be actually elected, right?

JDPerren on June 28, 2008 at 10:41 PM

Er, I know he and his supporters think he’s the President already, but wouldn’t that discussion be a bit premature?
JDPerren on June 28, 2008 at 10:41 PM

Actually JD,

No it is not. It is a political ploy in the same way that Dick Cheney was tapped to be VP and Colin Powell was already lined up as SECSTATE when GWB was still campaigning. It’s meant to reassure the electorate. In Obama’s case, the message is that the DOD will not be harmed just because the POTUS is a troop-hating Democrat with no experience in national security or diplomatic issues. In other words, leaving Secretary Gates in place sends the message that adults will still be in charge in the Penatgon when the current national security and diplomatic teams (arguably the best the nation has to offer) leave their jobs because an unqualified community organizer from South Chicago takes over.

highhopes on June 28, 2008 at 11:20 PM

Obama is going to have a hostile military on his hands no matter how he tries to sugar coat his wretched politics.

As my cousin now forward deployed somewhere recently said “to know him is to hate him”.

elduende on June 28, 2008 at 11:29 PM

So McCain calling for a gas tax holiday is a gimmick, but Obama floating the idea of keeping Bob gates on as SecDef is not? Let’s review: one idea would actually put money in people’s pockets; the other would put lipstick on a pig.

As my mama would say, I was born at night, but not last night.

rockmom on June 28, 2008 at 11:38 PM

What BHO wants is cover, not change. We are winning, and that is money in the bank if he’s elected president.

What he’s looking for with this is CYA with the nutroots, and an easy pander to undecided voters who support the surge and want to succeed in Iraq.

James OK on June 28, 2008 at 8:39 PM

exactly what I’ve been telling people I know for awhile now. If the dems can ever get in office and actually seem to “win” a war then the distrust of that party on national secruity goes out the window. So now you have national security and government programs for everybody and they have locked up the White house for years. With things looking better in Iraq now, he will not change course too quickly and he will do what George W could not do and bring the troops home with victory flag in hand. And putting an “R” in that seat who is against the war will only shore up the votes in the future.

yakwill83 on June 28, 2008 at 11:57 PM

Makes sense to keep Gates. If you are in a war that’s improving, then it’s a good idea to retain the people at the top.

SoulGlo on June 29, 2008 at 1:19 AM

I’d stay, then resign in protest once Obama does something foolish.

Lehosh on June 28, 2008 at 7:34 PM

And then write a book.
Call it, “Waht Happened.”
OOPS! Taken… but you get my idea.

If these aides succeed it will mean we’re not departing from Iraq any time soon! Everyone knows Barack doesn’t blow his nose unless someone else tells him too.

ToddonCapeCod on June 29, 2008 at 5:04 AM

I simply do not think Obama will win. So yeah, I guess I don’t worry about this as much as some do that think he has a chance.

Of course, when obama doesn’t win, we’ll all be considered racists who didn’t vote for him. What a conundrum.

diaphanous on June 29, 2008 at 5:32 AM

Actually, Gates would fit in with the Obama administration quite well.

The success in Iraq is DESPITE him, not Because of him.

LegendHasIt on June 29, 2008 at 5:41 AM

6/28/08 The Telegraph
Israel has one year before Iran attacks, less time if Obama is elected.

Iran’s military said it might hit the Jewish state with missiles and stop Gulf oil exports if it came under attack. Israel “is completely within the range of the Islamic republic’s missiles,” said Mohammed Ali Jafari, head of the feared Revolutionary Guard. “Our missile power and capability are such that the Zionist regime cannot confront it.”

Gadaffi endorsed Obama despite his “clearance sale” of Jerusalem, noting that Obama the Muslim, Gadaffi’s brother, has dispensation to say whatever it takes to get elected; yet Gadaffi has his alliance expectations with Obama laid out front and center.

Gates headed the CIA so he ought to know the score. Let Gates decide what Gates should do. Personally, I’d like to hear Gates renounce Obama as incompetent during the campaign and go back to Texas A&M rather than prop up Soros’ Pinocchio. It is arguable, but which honorable man SHOULD have stayed in office when Hitler first assumed authority in hopes to provide Hitler better leadership when that was impossible since Hitler took no one’s advice and going against Hitler met doom?

Obama’s mantra: Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur.
The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived.
Question: does Gates want to deceive the world for Obama?

maverick muse on June 29, 2008 at 7:04 AM

How would keeping Gates be “chaaaaange”?

Mojave Mark on June 29, 2008 at 9:33 AM

I say it’s unprincipled to preside over, and thereby lend legitimacy to the reversal of core policy you have become committed to support. My bet is Gates would decline to serve as a matter of integrity.

Should Obama ask him to stay? It would seem to be the politically expedient thing to do, so he may well do it. But it will be kept private, unless Gates accepts.

petefrt on June 29, 2008 at 10:11 AM

So,to be fair,Gates comments were directed at McCain as well,however,McCain will put country first,
canopfor on June 28, 2008 at 8:01 PM

If McCain wanted put the country first, he would have proposed real immigration reform. Build the fence, build it now, fine employers, jail anyone who knowingly give any government benefits to illegals, ad-infinutum.

Johan Klaus on June 29, 2008 at 10:50 AM

Gates has a tad more integrity then it takes to work for someone like barry. He’ll politely refuse I’ll bet and I hope obambi asks :-)

Rick554 on June 29, 2008 at 11:31 AM

“Fraught with peril” indeed.

This would signal, not suggest, that Iraq stays the course.

It’s time to throw hope and change under the bus.

drjohn on June 29, 2008 at 11:38 AM

tossing others under the bus the first time the waters get a little choppy

A bus on water? Obama’s Magic Bus?

mikeyboss on June 29, 2008 at 11:57 AM

No news here…. move right along…

Just some more acrobatic back flips by the Messiah of the universe.

Mcguyver on June 29, 2008 at 12:21 PM

Shock!!!!!!

Suddenly “change” and “hope” sound like “stay the course.”

BO’s not pulling out. That is the message. Gates gives him cover til the 2010 midterms. The added bonus is that telling voters that he “may” retain Gates soothes the nerves of anxious social conservatives potentially interested in voting for BO. If things get dicey in Iraq, he can still blame the evil GW.

Come now, isn’t this conventional wisdom by now? Rush has been saying this for over two years alone. News to no the mainstream, but not shocking to alt media types.

Angry Dumbo on June 29, 2008 at 3:32 PM

Yeah, and if after 3 months Gates stands up and says he can’t work for “this man”, Obama loses big time.
Too risky, better to make a bad choice and let the MSM prop him up, then to keep Gates and risk being exposed.

right2bright on June 30, 2008 at 8:50 AM

Seems that someone is putting the cart before the horse.

slug on June 30, 2008 at 8:59 AM