Once upon a time, critics of Defense Secretary Robert Gates took solace in the fact that the Pentagon chief’s tenure there was – by his own words – limited. But according to comments he made over the weekend on a Washington talk show, Gates may be willing to stay just a little longer than before.
“We'll see,” Gates told ABC This Week host George Stephanopoulos. “The President-elect and I, when we first discussed this, agreed to leave it open.”
This contrasts most famously with the timer clock Gates carried around with him at the end of the George W. Bush administration, counting down the days until that administration – and he – were out of office. When President Barack Obama asked him to stay on, Gates indicated he, at least, didn’t see himself staying a full term.
Indeed, the conventional wisdom had been that he would take off after he got the Quadrennial Defense Review and its related Pentagon analyses completed so to entrench his legacy of reform. Probably only Gates knows for sure how long he is staying, but his most recent comments at least provide a warning to foes and critics that they can’t just try wait him out.
The Bush administration notoriously never liked timelines for withdrawal – how ironic that Gates gets to apply that strategy here.