LOS ANGELES, January 8, 2013 — Former Obama Defense Secretary Bob Gates offers some praise and some searing criticism of President Barack Obama in a new tell-all book.
Gates’s book, “Duty,” was the sole topic at Jay Carney’s daily press briefing. The most explosive accusations are that Obama plays politics with military decisions and did not believe in his own Afghanistan strategy. Obama allegedly ordered a troop surge in Afghanistan for political reasons. He was interested in ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, win or lose. Another allegation is that Vice President Joe Biden was always wrong on foreign policy.
While allegations should not be taken at face value, the response to Gates’s book was very telling. Carney abandoned his normal attack-dog style at today’s press conference and came across as more muted than Obama’s foreign policy itself. Whenever anybody criticizes Obama, they face a slash-and-burn personal attack from the Obama White House and media defenders such as Salon and MSNBC. Even the respected Bob Woodward was not immune to such attacks. This time, there were no verbal bombs thrown at Gates.
Regarding Biden, the White House “disagrees” with Gates.
“The President greatly appreciates Gates’s service.”
One softball media questioner wanted to know if it affected the weekly Obama-Biden lunch regarding photographers. Carney said it did not.
When asked if Obama still considers Gates one of America’s “finest public servants,” Carney refused to recant that praise.
One questioner got to the point, asking, “Was Gates wrong when he said that the president didn’t believe in his own Afghanistan strategy?”
That question deserved a one-word answer in the affirmative or negative. Carney rambled to avoid calling Gates a liar. He could not even say Gates was mistaken.
The White House has been rocked by these allegations, with Carney conceding that they only received a copy of the book the night before.
The White House is terrified of these allegations, and they should be. Obama’s critics have described him as incompetent, detached, inexperienced, and ideologically inflexible. Biden has been derided for years as the bumbling Barney Fife of the administration, the man who wanted to partition Iraq into three separate nations
If the allegations were false, Carney would have said so using forceful language. Obama would have said something. Even presidents have the right to avoid being libeled, but there will be no attempt to sue Gates. Truth is an absolute libel defense.
This is one time where the left-wing smear machine will fail. MSNBC and Joan Walsh at Salon will not be able to offer screeds about Gates being part of the White racist power structure seeking to destroy a black president.
A charge of disloyalty would be hypocritical. Liberals praised former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill for writing a book attacking President George W. Bush. In that case, Bush administration officials slammed O’Neill’s attacks as falsehoods from a fired employee seeking vengeance.
Gates was also a Bush hire, but that dog will not hunt as an excuse. Gates is no partisan gunslinger. He has served every president since Reagan except for Clinton. Obama has praised him, and Gates’s loyalty should be to his country first.
Gates did not threaten the stability of the country because he is no longer in the military leadership. This is not a Stanley McChrystal situation. Military men must not ever publicly criticize the president. If they do not like his policies, they can leave and become private citizens. That is exactly what Gates did.
A valid criticism should come from the right. Gates should have quit sooner and spoken out sooner. Nevertheless, that does not invalidate his current claims about the Obama Administration.
Gates has lacerated Obama, and Obama in return through Carney has praised Gates. A president normally thin-skinned upon receiving criticism is refusing to defend himself and counter-attack.
There is only one sensible explanation for this. Gates is telling the truth. Obama’s leadership and behavior is indefensible. The Obama critics were right all along.