Bob Gates Doesn't Do Mop-Up
When President Bush tapped Robert Gates to be Secretary of Defense in November 2006, a huge sigh of relief rippled through the military establishment and, or that matter, a good portion of the nation. This reaction was not so much to who Mr. Gates was as to who he wasn't. He was not Donald Rumsfeld, the mercurial one-time Navy pilot and college wrestler who had led the Pentagon into two wars and brusquely and relentlessly challenged the judgment of some of the nation's most senior military leaders.
History's appraisal of Mr. Rumsfeld's stormy six-year tenure atop the military establishment will not be known for decades. It's undeniable, though, that by the time the President thanked him for his service and showed him to the door that the indomitable Rummy had few fans left in or out of uniform
Onto a national stage that Mr. Rumsfeld had commanded since 2001 stepped Mr. Gates, an outwardly mild-mannered, barely known former spymaster who seemed destined to perform mop-up duty for the remainder of Mr. Bush's second term.