• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments


It's hard to know how seriously to take Robert Gates' book about his time as secretary of defense. People who write tell-all books have their axes to grind, and we have to consider their observations in the context of the times and our own sense of the way things were. What we tend to do is read our own predispositions into such memoirs. Critics of President Obama will like the book, Obama acolytes not so much.

I would say that, given Obama's progressive views on the military, it is not exactly shocking to hear that he had no passion for our overseas engagements. But it's one thing to say he had misgivings about sending more troops into Afghanistan (a president who didn't second guess his war decisions would be suspect), quite another that he cynically sent Americans to die for a cause and a strategy he didn't believe in. I know it's not beyond the realm of possibility that a president could be so callous, but I certainly hope it's not true.

Then there is this:

Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe slammed Robert Gates on Sunday evening for not being honest with the American people during his tenure as secretary of defense.

Responding to descriptions from Gates’s memoir, “Duty,” about staying quiet on his disagreements with the administration, the Oklahoma Republican said Gates failed on his responsibility to inform the American people about what he knew.

"We can justly criticize Bob Gates for admitting that he knew these things were going on and he did not reveal these to the American people,” Inhofe told WABC’s Aaron Klein.
No, no, no. This isn't a political issue at all. No member of any administration should be slamming the administration in public while still holding office. There's a reason there are about a dozen proverbs covering this subject. You know: Don't bite the hand that feeds you, don't air your dirty laundry in public, don't tell tales out of school, etc. etc. If a president can't expect loyalty from his subordinates (but, yes, honestly expressed criticism, too), then he isn't being served, and ultimately, the American people aren't, either. This seems especically apt for someone serving at the head of the military, for which the chain of command is everything.
If Gates felt very strongly about his misgivings, the most honorable course would have been for him to leave office, then air his concerns, which is, of course, what he did.