Skip to comments.Robert Gates Book Portrays Obama as a Different Kind of President
Posted on 01/14/2014 6:00:54 AM PST by Kaslin
Like just about everybody else in Washington and many across the country, I've been reading the excerpts from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' book "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War."
It presents a significantly more negative picture of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton than Gates' statements in office led anyone to expect.
And it presents an interesting contrast with Gates' previous memoir, "From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War," published in 1996.
To be sure, Gates in "Duty" says many positive things about his most recent former colleagues. He calls Obama's decision to target Osama bin Laden the "most courageous" presidential decision he has seen.
He praises Clinton's judgment, her sense of humor and her penchant for hard work. Though he doesn't make the point explicitly in the excerpt, the secretary of state and secretary of defense weren't constant and mistrustful antagonists.
But he also presents some damning testimony. Listening to Obama soon after he had ordered a surge of troops into Afghanistan, "I thought: The president doesn't trust his commander, can't stand (Hamid) Karzai, doesn't believe in his own strategy and doesn't consider the war to be his. For him, it's all about getting out."
If this is not cynical enough, he is shocked that Clinton and Obama admit that their opposition to the Iraq surge was politically motivated -- in the presence of Gates, who was in the chain of command on the surge and helped make it work.
As for Vice President Joe Biden, Gates writes that he "has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy issue" over four decades. And he expresses even more angry contempt for congressional leaders.
Gates wrote "Duty" after leaving government with no intention or expectation of ever returning. But he wrote "From the Shadows," published in 1996, in similar circumstances.
He had risen quickly from a junior Russia analyst at the CIA to positions at the National Security Council in the Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and first Bush administrations. He was nominated to be CIA director in 1986, but withdrew in the face of congressional opposition; he was nominated again for the post and confirmed in 1991.
In "From the Shadows" he does not always fawn on the leaders he served. "No stranger man in American history" is his verdict on Richard Nixon. Ronald Reagan "began to fade a bit beginning in late 1985-early 1986."
He has especially warm praise for George H.W. Bush and his foreign policy team, and notes that Bush had almost a familial relationship with National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft (as George W. Bush would later have with Condoleezza Rice).
He sees Secretary of State James Baker as "a master craftsman of the persuasive and backroom arts at the peak of his powers," but notes that he "demanded more loyalty of the president than he gave in return."
Even more notable than the individual portraits in "From the Shadows" is Gates' argument that there was far more continuity in American foreign policy during the presidencies in which he served than was suggested by partisan rhetoric.
In this view, Nixon's detente with Russia was sealed by Ford's Helsinki Accords, whose human rights provisions were built on by Carter, who began the defense buildup accelerated by Reagan, whose negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev provided the basis for Bush's management of the collapse of the Soviet empire.
Presidents were constantly buffeted from the Right and Left by members of Congress, but, Gates argues, if the process was unpleasant, the results were usually benign.
In the excerpts from "Duty," Gates seems to take a similar view of George W. Bush, a "mature leader" who on the Iraq surge "risked reputation, public esteem, credibility, political ruin and the judgment of history on a single decision he believed was the right thing for the country."
But the excerpts suggest that Gates sees Obama out of line with the continuity he admires in his predecessors.
Clinton and Obama's cynical opposition to the Iraq surge and Obama's half-hearted commitment to his Afghanistan strategy are in jarring contrast with his description in "Shadows" of Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush I.
"For each," he writes, "the country came first," and "each, in his own way, was a modest man." Let's see if in the full text of "Duty" he says the same of Obama.
Listening to the interview, I’d say he didn’t know how to say what he really wanted to say.
State partially controlled Medical Insurance is Socialism, where competition is allowed.
State totally controlled Medical Insurance is Communism, where competition is not allowed.
Socialist Medical Insurance constitutes a partial violation of US Anti-Trust Laws.
Communist Medical Insurance constitutes a full violation of US Anti-Trust Laws.
Senator Harry Reid, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and B. Hussein Obama all have voiced support of a single payor Medical Insurance system, totally controlled by the US Federal Government.
Gates come off as a simpleton. He finds intelligence and hard work in Hitlery and deep down admires the phony jackass America has saddled itself with in Barry.
As far as Scranton Joe is concerned, Gates superficially discusses only one serious flaw: he doesn’t know anything about foreign relations. He doesn’t speak to the serious flaw that Biden has: he is inanely stupid.
Much more fun reading Charles Krauthammer’s recent collection of some of his most interesting columns.
I still have problems believing the whole Osama bin laden thing was for real. Dude had been dead for years.
The country comes first for most presidents —but for this one it’s golf outings and vacations.
Id say he didnt know how to say what he really wanted to say.
Gates is a creature of Washington. Nobody in DC speaks directly, honestly or plainly. If you have something to say, at least be clear about it. But that is not the Washington Way.
I agree. I still have not seen any evidence at all that the raid actually occurred and that bin Laden was killed. I don’t believe anything this government says due to their established pattern of lying to the people all of the time.
So why can’t these people start saying things when it matters instead of writing books for profit afterward?
s a ‘different kind of President’!!!! He’s the first who hates America and wants to see her standing in the world diminished and her economic viatlity dimisnished and her ties to the Almighty diminished! He’s a rotten rat bastard traitor!
A stupid, ridiculous comment like that makes it hard to take seriously anything else Gates has to say.
In Obama’s case is that all bad?
ditto. The “Islamic burial tradition” they followed was BS. http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/europe/05/09/osama.bin.laden.burial/index.html
bin laden raid decision was courageous? That was an easy decision for a commander-in-chief.
Mr. Barone, you are a dumbass of biblical proportion. Stop your political commentary immediately, as it evident you are either 1) incapable of seeing what is right in front of your face, or 2) too gutless or afraid to write it down for print.
“As for Vice President Joe Biden, Gates writes that he “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy issue”
I bet Gates was a fan of McCain. This is pretty much the exact words Biden said about McCain in the 2008 debates.
I didn’t hear the interview, but I think the book gives that impression too. People here are criticizing Gates for making the stock positive comments about Obama, but they’re just the usual disclaimers. It was obvious that Obama is entirely different from the others he worked with, and not in a good way at all, but in such a way that he’s almost afraid to say it.
There was a critical column on the book today in the WSJ complaining that Gates was just a hack, a climber, he’s just doing this because he doesn’t have a position anymore, he shouldn’t have “betrayed” goings on in the WH, etc. The last point was very odd, because it followed Gates’ remarks on how secretive the WH was and how Obama really didn’t make policy (or have it made for him) through the people theoretically in charge of these duties, but through his mysterious political aides. Surely the commentator must have realized that this is exactly why Gates had to go public: even the fawning press isn’t allowed to cover anything except photo-ops anymore, and the Obama WH keeps everything so tightly under wraps that the only way to get anything out is through this sort of “expose.”
And then the commentator remarks that if Gates didn’t like it, he should have said something earlier and quit. In principle, I agree, but I honestly think that Gates, a not very exciting but competent career bureaucrat who regardless of what you think of him, had seen many presidents and administrations, really couldn’t believe what he was seeing this time around and didn’t know what to do.
Did he use the fords “lazy” or “shiftless”
dammit... WORDS... not ‘fords’
grrrrrrrrrrrrrr I am useless at proofreading
People are in politics for life these days. Gates wanted to tell the American People a few things before he left on the afternoon stage. Of course, it’s a read between the lines book...but we’re not stupid on this end.
“”He praises Clinton’s judgment, her sense of humor””
Sure would like an example of her superior judgment and he thinks she has a sense of humor because she laughs inappropriately at everything she hears?
He’s a jerk and I won’t waste my time reading his book.
Side bar: Obama has whipped up his left-wing low life, military haters (himself included) to trash thIs magnificent, patriotic, touching movie that opened this weekend, “Lone Survivor”!!! The movie was number one and opened to tremendously large audiences.
We need to, IMHO, send the Obama & Obamabots a clear “Chick fil a” & “Duck Dynasty message....they will never forget!! I am suggesting that we....the American people, go see and support “Lone Survivor” by the millions.
We need to call, e-mail, write to the likes of Limbaugh, FNC, Drudge, Hannity, Kelly, O’Reilly, Levin, etc. and get everyone on board!& get the message out across the entire country!! Now is time for all good American men & women to come to the aid of our great, but dying country....thanks to Obama and his hate America minions, the mainstream media and Democrat Party!!!
A "Different" Obama?
Anyone who paid attention has always known he is nothing but an arrogant, lightweight, homosexual, racist airhead with severe Mommy problems and a mind scrambled by too much dope and cocains.
He is fascinated with his drug inspired, simplistic, grammar-school-level visions of socialist utopias but, like almost every other socialist, he is as lazy as a dead toad.
And those are just his good points.
“People are in politics for life these days. Gates wanted to tell the American People a few things before he left on the afternoon stage...”
Good point. He probably also wants to save what little reputation he has left, since Obama seems to drag down the personal standing of anyone foolish enough to work for him or even associate with him.
Gates is ‘Washington’ just like Obama and Hillary are Clinton. Can’t really say anything bad or you’ll get kicked out of the club.
We’ll show this lifer. Let’s not buy his damned book!
Well, Obama DID say he was going to 'fundamentally transform' the United States...
I wish everyone would stop ascribing what is happening to the country as negative from the perspective of progressives.
If you were transforming the country into a post-superpower, socialist state where every move anyone made, especially your political enemies, were being tracked automatically by machines funded publicly, then what is happening now can only be called a success.
Moreover, being reelected can only be construed as a mandate for all of it.
As such, the golf? You’d golf too if you were as successful as he is.
You step back and look at it all, and you know the guy has got to be nothing but happy? You aren’t even an American citizen, but you are elected President. Your plans go pretty well in the first term, almost too well because you won in a squeaker in the second, and now you are taking a wrecking ball to the last vestiges of one of the most belligerent, arrogant, and kleptocratic nations in history?
Yeah, you are going to golf.
Sending back the statue of Churchill was a clue. Hitler wrote Mein Kampf for pete’s sake. This guy wrote his too. Why is it nobody believes them before they take office?
Quite a ticket we came up with that time, wasn't it? Both of'em channeling the Angel Moron-i in the debates.
Was it Obama's decision or Jarretts?
Where was this book when it could have helped?
Yeah if you believe that arrogant pos occupant of the Spite House made the decision then I have a bridge to sell you. The decision was made by Valery whats her name
I knew you meant words, but since Fords is not a misspelled word the spell checker did not catch it
Are you saying you are a fan of plug hair?
"Deep down" he probably doesn't.
He's not going to express contempt for Obama -- and probably doesn't feel that either.
He has a sense of the president's limitations, but doesn't want to dwell on them.
If members of Seal Team 6 say they did it then it was done. They would never claim a kill that they did not complete nor back up a politician who implied they did. Thankfully we still have a few men of honor.
He’d sell more books if he was truthful, or rather told the whole story.
It would never happen as he was part of the problem being a lifer bureaucrat.
Are they sure that the person they shot was bin Laden? After all, they shot him in the face.