Gates, Defense & Hillary: Deft moves

| Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010

Credit Bob Gates with being a class act.

Mr. Gates, the secretary of Defense, tells Foreign Policy magazine that he plans to step down sometime next year. The only Republican member of the George W. Bush administration to be kept on by Democrat President Barack Obama (a wise move in a time of war) says he did not want the selection of his successor to become the stuff of political machinations.

Gates originally had talked of leaving in January 2012, a presidential election year. So, hats off to Gates for attempting to limit the political circus.

That said, speculation is running rampant about Gates' successor. And more than a few are mentioning Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a possibility. It's worth serious consideration.

Mrs. Clinton clearly has solidified her credentials at State. And even before, in 2008, she impressed the Trib's editorial board with her rapid-fire extemporaneous assessment of the world's trouble spots. Couple that with what's described as her warm relationship with the military and Defense secretary could be a smart fit.

Oh, yes, there is a political calculation to all this: Should Mr. Obama be a one-term president, the extra line on Hillary Clinton's resume and the experience certainly would bolster her credibility in 2016. But, sans the political considerations, the nation could do far worse than Hillary Clinton running the Pentagon.

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