ALWAYS keep an eye on the quiet ones. Robert Gates, a Washington veteran who served as George W. Bush’s final defence secretary and stayed on as Barack Obama’s first, has written an incendiary memoir that belies his reputation as an inscrutable, unflappable team player (Team Obama even nicknamed him “Yoda”, after the Jedi master from “Star Wars”).
As a rare bipartisan figure in a polarised capital, who served eight presidents in his day, Mr Gates has startled Washington by revealing the passions beneath his poker face. He betrays real loathing for Congress (most members are parochial, incompetent, rude, thin-skinned, self-serving and hypocritical, is his verdict). He talks of congressional hearings turned into kangaroo courts by members “in a permanent state of outrage”. At the same time, Mr Gates, CIA chief during the presidency of the elder George Bush, confesses to the almost-debilitating grief that he came to feel over military casualties.
His book, entitled, simply, “Duty”, shows contempt for many in Mr Obama’s inner circle. Special disdain is reserved for Vice-President Joe Biden, who was “wrong on...Continue reading