The selling of Gates begins

posted at 10:35 am on November 20, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Signs abound that Barack Obama will keep Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense for a significant period of time in his administration.  Negotiations have reportedly reached the point where they’ve begun reviewing org charts for potential replacements and retentions.  Meanwhile, anticipating the shrieks from the Left when Change doesn’t include the DoD, Harry Reid began telling people that Gates isn’t a Republican:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was supportive of the idea when asked about it Sunday by substitute anchor John King on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

“I think we need a good transition there,” Reid said. “You know, it’s interesting: My conversation with Secretary Gates, he’s not even a Republican. Why wouldn’t we want to keep him? He’s never been a registered Republican.”

Perhaps not, but that won’t fly with most partisans.  Gates may not be a registered Republican, but he’s served two Republican presidents as political appointees.  He also served Bush 41, first as a deputy national-security adviser and then as CIA director from 1991-3.  His actual voter registration will be secondary to those who wanted the entire Bush hierarchy excised, especially on defense and national security.

Fortunately, that’s a small minority in Obama’s coalition.  Keeping Gates is a wise choice, and sends some important signals to the DoD and to our military allies.  Rather than expecting wholesale Change, they can expect continuity in important areas, especially strategically in the current war theaters in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Politico notes that keeping Gates may help keep David Petraeus happy and on the job — critical to Obama in the first few months of his administration as he gets up to speed on military matters.

The conventional wisdom holds that Gates can provide cover for Obama’s intended troop withdrawals from Iraq, but the new status of forces agreement already does that, assuming the Iraqi National Assembly passes it before the end of the year.  The choice of Gates and the courtship of Petraeus suggests something different entirely — that Obama has already begun rethinking the timetable for withdrawal in the new reality of Iraq.  I’d be only mildly (and pleasantly) surprised if Obama adheres to the 32-month timetable in the SOFA and attempts to negotiate a longer-term presence along those same principles in 2010 or 2011, after the Congressional elections.  By that time, Iraq might decide that having American air power nearby would be a good idea.

Let’s hope all of this courtship results in a marriage, soon.


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I was hoping for Kucinich.

lodge on November 20, 2008 at 10:38 AM

I was hoping for Kucinich.

lodge on November 20, 2008 at 10:38 AM

Those of us in the militaary are most definately not.

BadgerHawk on November 20, 2008 at 10:45 AM

Those of us in the militaary are most definately not.

Why do you hate peace and rainbows?

lodge on November 20, 2008 at 10:47 AM

They will keep Gats in place, so if anything goes wrong they can sacrifice him as a Bush chosen Fall Guy.

Win/Win for Bambi… if things go well, he looks wise and bipartisan… if things go poorly, built it scape goat.

Romeo13 on November 20, 2008 at 10:47 AM

Here’s hoping it doesn’t work out. President-Elect Bambi shouldn’t be given the luxury of pointing to Gates and saying “Bush did it” everytime the bastard finds himself over his head dealing with national security matters.

highhopes on November 20, 2008 at 10:48 AM

Bush’s third term.

Vashta.Nerada on November 20, 2008 at 10:48 AM

Obama has so little experience, that he has a difficult time appointing anyone “new”.
He just doesn’t have any depth to know of people “better” or with the same experience. He was so insulated from major decisions.
He has to pick the people he is picking, Bush and Clinton advisors.

right2bright on November 20, 2008 at 10:49 AM

lodge on November 20, 2008 at 10:38 AM

Considering Bambi is going to outlaw war by Executive Order the minute he takes office, perhaps Kucinich could head up the “Peace Department”

highhopes on November 20, 2008 at 10:50 AM

Why do you hate peace and rainbows?

lodge on November 20, 2008 at 10:47 AM

They don’t, it’s his tin foil hat, it jams the radar…

right2bright on November 20, 2008 at 10:50 AM

Of course, there’s a difference between “sending signals of continuity” and the actual chain of command. Gates under CINC Obama still has to carry out the directions of the President. He’s not automatically entitled to defy the next president and carry on with orders from the old regime.

Jazz Shaw on November 20, 2008 at 10:51 AM

They don’t, it’s his tin foil hat, it jams the radar…

right2bright on November 20, 2008 at 10:50 AM

Nah, doesn’t jam it, but sure makes him easy to track…

Romeo13 on November 20, 2008 at 10:52 AM

CHANGE

Well, not really. Just a bunch of recycled Clintonistas and Bush’s SoD.

Mr Purple on November 20, 2008 at 10:53 AM

I love it when Harry Reid is stumped. Watching him all through the Bailout Crisis, he clearly doesn’t know what to do. He is in a permanent state of ignorance and doesn’t know what to do about anything. Neither do the rest of the Dems including the President-Elect. Keeping Gates is probably the smartest thing Obama can do for the country. None of the rest of his advisors know anything about competence or accomplishment except for their own grandiose ideas of who they are. Being insane is not a resume inhancement.

BetseyRoss on November 20, 2008 at 10:56 AM

I don’t hate rainbows, just peace.

mcg on November 20, 2008 at 10:56 AM

They told me if I voted for John McCain we’d have a belligerent new
administration that promoted endless war – and they were right!
Heh heh heh…

Bruno Strozek on November 20, 2008 at 11:01 AM

Robert Gates could resign if he doesn’t care for The One’s plans.

DannoJyd on November 20, 2008 at 11:02 AM

Gates should run away.

He’s being kept on to be the fall guy.

drjohn on November 20, 2008 at 11:08 AM

Why do you hate peace and rainbows?

lodge on November 20, 2008 at 10:47 AM

Translation: “Peace and rainbows” are what pacifists picture while the world burns because the pacifists refuse to defend themselves or anybody else.

AubieJon on November 20, 2008 at 11:09 AM

Why do you hate peace and rainbows?

lodge on November 20, 2008 at 10:47 AM

You forgot about the unicorns and lollipop trees.

Maybe Dear Leader finally got a real good look at the intelligence briefings. Now is that a good thing or a scary thing?

rbj on November 20, 2008 at 11:09 AM

Barack Obama = Bush III. I can’t wait for the campaign commercials. In 2012 the Republican nominee can run against Obama by running against Bush. Nice little twist there.

t.ferg on November 20, 2008 at 11:09 AM

Why wouldn’t we want to keep him? He’s never been a registered Republican.”

I don’t get that quote. Is Crazy Harry saying qualifications are a voter registration card?
Republicans need not apply?
Why would Gates even want to stay?

Kini on November 20, 2008 at 11:22 AM

Why would Gates even want to stay?

Kini on November 20, 2008 at 11:22 AM

Because he loves his country?

pseudonominus on November 20, 2008 at 11:26 AM

Barack Obama = Bush III. I can’t wait for the campaign commercials. In 2012 the Republican nominee can run against Obama by running against Bush. Nice little twist there.

t.ferg on November 20, 2008 at 11:09 AM

Ooooh! I luv it when you talk like that…

Bruno Strozek on November 20, 2008 at 11:27 AM

The number I cannot predict but as of, let’s say, Jan 1 2012, there will still be US troops in Iraq. Do you guys agree or disagree with this??

InDubly on November 20, 2008 at 11:44 AM

This speaks volumes about the Democratic bench when it comes to the military and national security. And I hope that Gates walks if Obama tries to get him to do anything stupid with regard to Iraq.

Dudley Smith on November 20, 2008 at 11:53 AM

Keeping Gates is a wise choice, and sends some important signals to the DoD and to our military allies……

Although I agree that Gates should get the hell out of Dodge, I think that we need at least one adult who knows how to properly handle a firearm……………

Seven Percent Solution on November 20, 2008 at 12:31 PM

I was hoping for Kucinich.

Hahahaha. Dennis actually used to be my congressman before I moved.

The people in his district have no clue what a loon he is. They just have this emotional attachment for him going back to when he was mayor.

KeepOhioRed on November 20, 2008 at 12:46 PM

My conversation with Secretary Gates, he’s not even a Republican. Why wouldn’t we want to keep him? He’s never been a registered Republican.”

I sure am glad to know Dingy Harry is concerned with the most important qualifications for a SecDef.

James on November 20, 2008 at 12:58 PM

I don’t get that quote. Is Crazy Harry saying qualifications are a voter registration card?
Republicans need not apply?
Why would Gates even want to stay?

Kini on November 20, 2008 at 11:22 AM

Pretty telling slip on Reid’s part, no? President-elect Bambi ran on a platform of changing the partisanship in DC and it turns out that he didn’t mean it! I am so shocked. ;-0

As to why Gates would want to stay, I’d put power and prestige up there along with wanting to make the transition smooth.

I think he’s a fool to stick around as Bambi’s convenient scapegoat. Nevertheless, the troops have little trust in Obama and even less loyalty. They’ll obey orders but Obama had better not go in like Clinton tried and start using the military as a lab for leftist social experimentation.

highhopes on November 20, 2008 at 1:10 PM

Change you can believe in. The audacity of hope. We are the change we seek. Just words, just speeches.

HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!

littleguy on November 20, 2008 at 1:22 PM

…shrieks from the Left when Change doesn’t include the DoD… Rather than expecting wholesale Change

Maybe Change should have a little trademark “TM” sign after it.

Tzetzes on November 20, 2008 at 2:42 PM

Obama during Campaign: “I will change the failed policies of George W. Bush.”

Presdient-Elect Obama: “I will not change the failed successful policies of George W. Bush.”

Change you can believe in. Maybe, until he changes his mind.

Troops coming home from Iraq in 16 20 24 months when Maliki says so, as Obama has always said.

Steve Z on November 20, 2008 at 3:43 PM

Who cares. The Real Winners here are our men and women in uniform. The rest is window dressing.

El Coqui on November 20, 2008 at 6:56 PM

Gates and petraeus will both resign when Obama converts the military into the village people as he has said he will do.

TTheoLogan on November 21, 2008 at 1:48 AM