[update] Hey gang! First off, I don't literally know Barack Obama. The point of the title is that it's sort of a continuation of one I wrote some months back. That diary was about Obama's overall approach. When I say "and I do" I simply mean that what he's doing now is entirely consistent with what I saw in him before Iowa. Also, if I've offended some of you with invective I'm sorry, but only a bit. We do ourselves little credit if we reflexively freak out when President-Elect Obama does something we don't like at first blush. He'll make mistakes. He'll up. But for something as massive as this choice he HAS to have his reasons. It's worthwhile to take the time to hash them out. Oh, and thanks for the Rec List! I'm no "yes-man" by any means. I was furious about FISA, for example. But I'm getting exactly what I expected from President-Elect Obama. And yes, I want Wes Clark to replace Gates in 2010 when he can legally do so.
I wrote a piece during the primaries explaining how so many here among the netroots misunderstood Obama. Well, I see I have to revisit things a bit. I want to preface this by saying that venues such as this are fantastic places to vent. I'm not trying to muzzle anybody here. Say what you want. Just understand that some of you are making us look like a pack of ineffectual idiots.
Okay, let's start with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Anybody here like Star Trek? Remember that saying "Only Nixon could go to China"? It made sense when Spock said it. It makes sense now. By allowing the Bush people to negotiate an end to the Iraq War and allowing Secretary Gates to oversee the first phase of our withdrawal out of Iraq, well, Obama has found a masterstroke. He gets what he wants but he gets a LOT of political cover. Please remember that for decades we Democrats have fought the specter of having "lost" the Vietnam War. The optics are much better with Gates.
Forget the optics for a second. Gates is a realist. He's smart as hell and he's no ideologue. Some of the comments I've seen today blow my mind. He is not, I repeat NOT, one of the guys who got us into this mess. He's an old-school foreign policy wonk like Scowcroft. The realists don't see the world like the neo-cons do. Gates may not always do things I approve of but he for damned sure has his head screwed on straight. He's done an amazing job given the catastrophe he took over from Rumsfeld. He's moderated President Bush some (especially regarding Iran) and he's done a lot to clean up the top brass at the Air Force.
Bottom line? He's doing great work. If he's onboard with the withdrawal there's literally NO good policy reason or competency reason to yank him. All you've got is the politics. Guys, seriously, THAT is how we wanna use what political capital we have? Bitching about how he's not a Democrat?
I've got a lot of friends and family in the service, some enlisted and some officers. I don't know of a single one that doesn't want Gates to stay on awhile. Most of these people are Democrats, by the way. They trust Gates. He's a thinker, and he listens. He's pragmatic and he prepares. These are great qualities in a leader.
None of this means you have to love Bob Gates. I'd be surprised if you did. But please stop acting like leaving the only guy in human history to get President Bush to act LESS INSANE is selling out the Obama Premise. It isn't. By keeping Bob Gates on a little while Barack Obama is doing something absolutely ing amazing in politics:
He is keeping his word to us by keeping Gates. This is what "new politics" looks like. This, literally THIS choice, is why I supported Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton and the others. I did not want, and do not want, a President who spends four years trying to break Republican backs. The work is too hard and too important for that. Getting out of Iraq will be incredibly complicated, costly, and slower than we'd like. That's just the logistics, folks. We've got a ton of men and materiel there.
Barack Obama is picking people he trusts with incredibly important tasks. You don't like all of these people. You don't agree with all of these people. It can be irksome. But reflect on his choices so far, dammit. He's picking people who can produce results! He's allowing for some pretty big egos and some pretty diverse viewpoints because these are the people he's concluded can bring about the policy changes we need.
If you want to spend your days and nights during transition bitching about how Obama is selling us out you're welcome to do so. It sounds an awful lot like some of the shit I read during the primary wars. If you wanted a Democrat who'd treat the Republicans like the Republicans just treated us, well, you voted for the wrong candidate.
Dissent. Complain. Blog. Shout to the heavens. Be heard, if you can. But try to remember that running a one-party executive that ignores the concerns of the minority party was completely and utterly ing retarded when the Republicans did it. I want President Obama to succeed in actually governing. I honestly would prefer he accomplish some great things in four years and LOSE than tread water, pass the buck, and get re-elected. He's picking producers. They'll do what they're told. We don't have to, of course, but if we had any brains at all we'd wait until he's sworn in to concern troll 24/7.
He hasn't sold us out. He's ignoring a lot of what we want because we're his left flank. We have to remember what matters most. At this point that's two things - stabilizing the economy and getting us out of Iraq. He's picking a very solid team to do just that.