Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Gates rates the presidents he’s known

Defense Secretary Gates is loosening up in his public comments as the exit sign beckons. When Katie Couric asked him for a "60 Minutes" profile to briefly describe each of the presidents he’s known, he did so, in an passage that for some reason was posted only on the web: Nixon: "probably one of our ...

The U.S. National Archives/Flickr
The U.S. National Archives/Flickr
The U.S. National Archives/Flickr

Defense Secretary Gates is loosening up in his public comments as the exit sign beckons. When Katie Couric asked him for a "60 Minutes" profile to briefly describe each of the presidents he's known, he did so, in an passage that for some reason was posted only on the web:

Nixon: "probably one of our strangest presidents," brilliant at foreign policy, but "a distorted personality"

Carter: "he could not establish priorities"

Defense Secretary Gates is loosening up in his public comments as the exit sign beckons. When Katie Couric asked him for a "60 Minutes" profile to briefly describe each of the presidents he’s known, he did so, in an passage that for some reason was posted only on the web:

Nixon: "probably one of our strangest presidents," brilliant at foreign policy, but "a distorted personality"

Carter: "he could not establish priorities"

Reagan: One of his favorites:. "a historic president," "slyer," and "more manipulative" than he is perceived.

Bush the elder: "helped bring the Cold War to a peaceful close"

Bush the younger: Only knew him at the end of his term, found him at that point at least to be very non-political.

Obama: "very thoughtful…an easy decisionmaker."

In the main interview, which did air, Gates said that the Pentagon over last 10 years has had a culture of an "open checkbook."

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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