Tags: gates | memoir | biden | obama

David Gergen: Gates Wants Readers to Understand Washington

Wednesday, 08 Jan 2014 01:10 PM

By Wanda Carruthers

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Former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates is trying to help people understand why it is "damnably difficult" to get things done in Washington, CNN senior political analyst and former presidential advisor David Gergen said Wednesday.

"It's the fact that a man who came in to salvage two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan, found it, as he said, 'damnably difficult,' to get anything done of consequence in Washington. And, he's trying to help us understand why that is," Gergen told CNN's "New Day."

Gates both criticized and praised President Barack Obama in his upcoming book, "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War." He called President Obama a "man of personal integrity," yet claimed the president lost faith in his policy on the war in Afghanistan, and didn't "consider the war to be his."

The former defense secretary also criticized former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden in his book. Gergen maintained Gates was not attacking individuals, but was trying to give readers a sense of why it was "so difficult for this country to be self governing and to be effective, not only here at home, but overseas."

Gergen explained Gates appeared to be bothered by the growing "dysfunctionality" in government that he saw change during his decades in public service. Gergen said problems in Washington went beyond "Capitol Hill and the White House."

"I think the level of dysfunctionality is something that deeply troubled Bob Gates, because he came in at a time when government appeared to be able to do things and big things. And, America walked big on the stage.

"And, he left at a time when America seems to be sort of easing off the stage, in the minds of many people. And, the government is not running as well as it should," Gergen said.

The title "Duty" was appropriate, given Gates' admiration for the military, Gergen said.
"There's a reason he called this book 'Duty.' That is, I believe he has a sense of duty that transcends that — that's a sense of duty to the young men and women in combat," Gergen said.

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