BOSTON (CBS) – Nothing works Washington into a froth like a good tell all.
And the new one from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates actually appears to be worth it.
Let me say up front that I have only been treated to excerpts of this book. But it is essentially unheard of for a cabinet secretary – never mind a Secretary of Defense – to talk out-of-school about the boss like this.
He was ‘SecDef’ for about five years when I covered Washington during the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. Back then, he was known for his soft-spoken nature and his poker face.
And in his book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” he questions the commander-in-chief’s motivations in Afghanistan, saying President Obama didn’t believe his own strategy and didn’t trust military leaders.
Gates had far worse things to say about Vice President Joe Biden and Congress.
But while people are focusing on Gates’ negative remarks, this book does not appear to be a hatchet job.
In fact he contradicts himself more than once, saying he never doubted Obama’s support for the troops and he cheered the president’s decision to send a troop surge into Afghanistan.
The book also reminds us of what a unique Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was, known for showing emotion when visiting troops in war zones.
He used to tell them he loved them, as Washington Post reporter Greg Jaffe recounted Wednesday. Imagine any other Pentagon boss doing that.
People will have a lot to say about the book. But it will not change the fact that Gates served presidents of both parties reluctantly and honorably in a time of war.
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