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Shhhhh, Bob Gates Is the Cabinet Secretary Who’s TCBing

Steve Clemons looks at the high-profile globetrotting of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden and asks: What about Bob?

Gates hangs back in contrast, advising, lurking — and laying the groundwork for change with Russia, China, even perhaps Iran.

Gates has momentarily come out of the shadows and made two key statements that are particularly important and show him to be a steadying influence and stabilizer on the Obama team.

The statements Steve references are Gates’ pushback against a greater U.S. troop deployment to Afghanistan and his public rebuke to new Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on attacking Iran. He also briefly touches on some of Gates’ bureaucratic moves concerning the intelligence community and support to the State Department’s budget.

To which I’d add: if you think that’s a record of quiet activism, the next big data point is going to be the imminently unveiled Pentagon budget. Gates keeps talking about how it will represent “hard choices” on bloated weapons systems beloved by the services but is remaining publicly vague. He’s assembled a team, led by Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Vickers, to scrub the budget’s detailed funding requests; that’s probably going to the White House next week. I’ll have more on what Gates is up to a little later, but Steve is really picking up on something. There’s are reasons why President Obama kept Gates on, and why Gates is constantly described as a quiet but lethally effective bureaucratic presence.

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