Gates on McNamara
Kevin Drum sort of freaked out over Robert McNamara’s death and let a very human burst of empathy explode into an unnecessary spasm of self-loathing. As a defense secretary, Robert Gates is a sort of anti-McNamara — a guy who comes in to mitigate another man’s disaster; does a good job; and then goes looking for other problems he can unlock — but it makes more sense that he would empathize with McNamara. His statement:
Robert McNamara was a patriot and dedicated public servant who took on grave duties during a period of great consequence. Having also held this post in a time of war, I have a special appreciation of the burdens and responsibilities he faced. As America’s longest-serving secretary of defense, he implemented visionary reforms that fundamentally changed the way this department does business — reforms that long outlasted his tenure at the Pentagon. With his keen analytical mind, Secretary McNamara never shied away from the most pressing national and international issues of his time — above all, matters of war and peace including his own decisive role in shaping that history. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.
“Decisive” is a word that stings in the context of McNamara’s legacy.