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.
So far, ComedyandPolitics hasn't been able to find a massive outcry from the left about this choice, with the exception of John Nichols at The Nation, who writes:
All indications are that the man who has run George Bush's nightmarish occupation of Iraq -- along with the downward spiral that is Afghanistan -- will now manage Barack Obama's nightmarish occupation of Iraq and the new president's plans to turn Afghanistan into a full-blown quagmire.
The obvious potential downside to this choice is retaining a SecDef who is more hawkish than many of Obama's supporters were probably hoping for. But another downside is that this appointment reinforces the myth that Republicans are big strong men with guns who can win wars and Democrats are pussy-ass bitches who probably shouldn't be in the trenches because of their lady-cycles. The NY Times reports is thusly:
But it also stirred a debate inside Mr. Obama’s circles, where some advisers worried that the decision to turn to a Republican appointee — something President Bill Clinton did in naming William S. Cohen to the defense post in 1997 — would reinforce the notion that Democrats could not manage the military. “It makes them look like they’re too wimpy to be trusted to run the building,” said one adviser who asked not to be named.
That advisor didn't want to be named because he's a scared little girl who this blog wouldn't trust with our copy editing, much less with a real man's war goddammit.
This news comes on the heels of a very promising development however. John Brennan, who we wrote about here, asked that his name be removed from consideration to head either the CIA or be the Director of National Intelligence. What's most amazing about this announcement is the explicit credit it gives to liberal blogs in influencing the decision.
Greenwald, not uncommonly, lead the charge. His reaction to this latest news is here, and video of Jane Hamsher from FireDogLake is below. Worth watching, especially if you haven't seen Rachael Maddow in action yet.
The importance of Brennan's self-removal really can't be overstated. It shows, at least in this instance, that what Maddow refers to in the clip below as the "organized left" can influence this administration. Gates never provoked the kind of reaction that Brennan did, but if he and Obama can't figure out a way to begin removing troops from Iraq sooner rather than later, he very well may get that reaction yet.