I think this story by Chris Bowers at Open Left deserves some much needed attention. Chris writes:
Kind of remarkable that every time Democrats seek elite media and political credibility for having a “bi-partisan” cabinet, they turn to Republicans to manage the Pentagon. Kind of makes you think that Democrats believe Republicans are better at managing both national security, and what is by far the largest department of the federal government. There have been no Democratic Defense Secretaries since 1996, and only eight years of Democratic Defense Secretaries since 1968.
This post comes after the Financial Times indicates that chatter points to Obama working out the details that would allow current Defense Secretary Robert Gates to remain in an Obama Administration.
I agree with Bowers here that the eventual effect of this is wrong. Of course it could be that Gates is the exact person Obama wants to head his Pentagon, but surely if one is worried about transition issues Secretary Gates, “an old-fashioned patriot”, in Mr. Obama’s own words could be called upon to remain on past January 20th as a contractor or special adviser. Choosing the right people is important, but there are other roles Gates could fill to use the knowledge and experience he has.
Democrats are not going to be able to take back the issue of National Defense if we insist on allowing Republicans, even moderates, to head the Defense Department. Obama should chose a qualified and experienced Democrat, Sam Nunn?, to step up and lead a Pentagon that will refocus itself on stopping al Qaeda, bringing our troops home safe, and modernizing for the future of warfare.