News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 16, 2014

RONN MOTT: Robert Gates’ Duty

Ronn Mott
Special to the Tribune-Star

---- — Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense, has written a book entitled, “Duty,” and it has caused a stir. Not so much what he says about Washington leadership, but because he is criticizing a sitting president who has about two and a half years to go in his elected term.

I rather like Robert Gates. I thought he did a good job, but my one, small voice in western Indiana doesn’t amount to much. What amounts to much is both sides of the political aisle would say pretty much the same thing. I have not yet read the book, but it is on my agenda. (I’ll certainly report on it when I do get it read.)

Evidently the most terrible thing he has written about is the fact that Vice President Joe Biden doesn’t trust the military, President Barack Obama did not believe in his own Pakistani policies, and the entire political landscape of Washington is not fit for man nor beast. No big revelation there on any of these subjects or situations.

According to what he has written, Secretary Gates really likes Hillary Clinton. He now has said in an interview she would be a good president … smart as a whip and hard as a rock when she makes her mind up. Secretary Gates writes about the problems in Libya (which sits there now like a black hole), Syria, the new eruptions in Iraq, Pakistan, and the nuclear situation in Iran. All make a bad situation now and it will be much worse before it gets better.   

The biggest kettle of fish is the inaction about getting anything done in Washington because Congress can’t get together even for the good of the country. Robert Gates worked first for George W. Bush and then for Barack Obama. You would have thought the Republican-controlled Congress might give Secretary Gates a pass. It did not and it doesn’t look as if it will.

In an interview, Secretary Gates said he lives in the Pacific Northwest because it is 3,000 miles from Washington, D.C. And when asked if he would ever return, he not only said, “No,” but emphatically “No!” I bet this is a great read.

Every time you read a mildly, not-so-typical politician’s report on the nation’s capital and thinking, it comes down to the Tea Party’s members in Congress who have gone there to tear things down, not to build things up.  

Robert Gates’ book, “Duty,” will give all the naysayers and political pundits something to talk about for the next couple of weeks.

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.