I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that what U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates unveiled yesterday could be the seeds of President Barack Obama's first veto. It goes like this:
A popular Republican SecDef provides political top-cover for a popular new Democratic President to push Congress to agree to most of the changes. A Democratically led Congress pushes back too hard and upholds too much of the status quo. Obama's administration then gets to paint them as a bunch of lawmakers protecting parochial interests and not sharing in the nation's sacrifice.
Meanwhile, Obama's war-fighting requests remains substantial and seperate, and as it will undoubtedly pass Congress, he can't be accused of abandoning the warfighter in combat. BUT, by vetoing the baseline bill Congress sends him as fiscally unfit, Obama gets to look like the un-Bush early in his presidency, especially against his own party (compared to George W. Bush who didn't rely on the veto until the opposition took over the Capitol). Besides, the public already despises Congress most of any branch of government, and Obama and Gates enjoy popularity second only to the First Lady.
All of this is highly hypothetical, and Washington has a wonderful way of surprising even the most seasoned observer. But right now, I see an Obama veto of a congressional baseline defense bill as the likeliest first significant rejection from this White House.
What do you think?