Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, and Douglas Elmendorf, head of the Congressional Budget Committee have big brains with lots of facts and Obama turns to them for advice.

Hmm ... Why them?

I've browsed around and here's what I've learned from the news magazines, networks, and various dot-coms.

Gates, born in Kansas 66 years ago, advised President Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush one and, Bush two.

(That impresses me -- it certainly says other presidents have trusted Gates.)

He's a Republican. (Hmm.) People say he has a photographic mind. Apparently, during Reagan's administration he was a Cold War hawk who saw the Soviet Union as an evil adversary... (Is that why Reagan called them that?) Also, Gates failed to recognize that Mikhail Gorbachev was a true reformer. And Gates said the Soviets would never leave Afghanistan, but they did; he said the Afghan President would never survive the Soviet's departure but the Afghan President stuck around for at least three more years.

(That's four mistakes, and there's more!)

Under Bush, Gates justified the missile-defense program, but under Obama Gates reversed his position -- he took charge of canceling it. And Gates never supported repealing the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, but he's agreed to carry out Obama's order to do just that.

(Whoa -- the Bush stuff bothers me.) Gates is the key adviser for the President on how and when to use military force. Before throwing his support behind General McChrystal's push for a troop surge late last year, Gates warned that the Soviets could not win with 110,000 troops in Afghanistan.

(♪ ♪ "Ac-cen- tu-ate the pos-i-tive ... E -lim-in- ate the neg-a-tive ... Don't mess with mister in between ♪ ♪..." This Gates guy sure does give a lot of negative advice.)

At least he has a sense of humor. Joking about egos in D.C., Gates said, "It's the only place in the world you can see a prominent person walking down lovers' lane holding his own hand."

Thinking positively, I'm figuring maybe his photographic mind is chock full of facts that Obama needs to fend off the Republican attacks.

Fran, my blog coach taught me how to embed video clips, so take a look at Gates -- he's stiffish -- I don't know all the ins and outs, but I have to admit, I like the way he deals with the mistakes he's made.

What about Douglas Elmendorf, the "money numbers guy?" At age 47, a soft-spoken academic (he taught at Harvard before joining the Congressional Budget Committee (CBO), in '93,) he coaches his daughter's soccer team and commutes to work on the subway.

(So he's a penny pincher.)

The latest statement from the CBO is Elmendorf's forecast that the federal deficit will reach $1.35 trillion this year — $4,400 for every American. Delivering the grim budgetary news is his job, but his numbers infuriate people -- some say he's exaggerating costs, others say he's underestimating them.

Here's Elmendorf being grilled, explaining a complicated issue that I don't altogether understand, but I like his fresh-faced, down-to earth, direct way of handling it.

Okay. Money numbers help Obama make his plans -- prepare him for the questions he's got to be able to answer. And Gates -- his long history and his experience help Obama.

These two advisers are not yes-men. They tell the President what he needs to know as he's making decisions for us, holding onto our American values and principles that he's committed to upholding for us.

So lay your numbers on him, Elmendorf! Give Obama your fatherly advice Gates, as much as you want!

We've got a man in the White House who's got a mind of his own.
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