December 10, 2010

APPRECIATING DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES. I think Rumsfeld is unfairly tarred, but Gates has been excellent.

UPDATE: Reader Dave Parmly writes:

Like anyone in the job, he’s done some things I like, some things I don’t. However, my strongest impression of him came when he spoke to the many Scouts and adult volunteers at the National Jamboree this summer.

Gates is an Eagle Scout and, as a youth, attained many levels of recognition that fill his Scouting resume as what we call a “true believer” in Scouting. (Example: gates is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, a distinction he attained as a youth. You have to be a hard worker and great leader to gain this honor as a youngster.) He didn’t get his Eagle because it would look good on a college app, or because his parents made him do it, but because Scouting meant a whole lot to him. Part of his speech at the Jamboree quoted words from a fairly obscure Scout ceremony, a part of the induction into a Scouting honor society. And he didn’t look at his notes (there was no teleprompter) as he said it. After all those years, it was still in his memory.

Some were “offended” that the President didn’t come speak to us. Frankly, I was relieved. Any speech from Obama to the Scouts would have been fluff. His awareness of, and empathy with, Scouting’s ideals is non-existent. Gates was a wonderful stand-in and even the kids paid close attention, based on the in-camp discussions afterward.

Whether he is a great SECDEF is for history to decide. But he’s a good man, in my opinion. Personally, I want to better known as a “good man” over any external recognition. I hope Gates feels the same way.


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