In Command

Thomas E. Ricks in The New York Times:

BookAs I was reading “Duty,” probably one of the best Washington memoirs ever, I kept thinking that Robert M. Gates clearly has no desire to work in the federal government again in his life. That evidently is a fertile frame of mind in which to write a book like this one. The former defense secretary is naming names. Vice President Joe Biden? A comical “motormouth” who, though he is “simply impossible not to like,” presumes to know more about counterterrorism than an experienced Special Operations general. He is “relentless . . . in attacking the integrity of the senior military leadership” and, for good measure, “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” The former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is “hell on wheels, . . . a whirling dervish with ­attention-deficit disorder.” Tom Donilon, President Obama’s second national security adviser, is suspicious and distrustful of the uniformed military leadership to the point of stating in a meeting that it was “insubordinate” and “in revolt” against the White House. At one point in an Oval Office meeting, Donilon was so querulous about military operations that Gates contemplated walking out in anger. “It took every bit of my self-discipline to stay seated on the sofa.”

One of the few members of the Obama administration who comes off well is Hillary Clinton, who, in her time as secretary of state, is portrayed by Gates as consistently mature and cooperative.

More here.