Gates would make sense

Published 11:20 am Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the American people could have faith that a president’s Cabinet would be comprised of the most qualified people?

That seems like a pretty simple concept, but those posts will be primarily filled with Democrats and if a Republican is given the nod, well, eyebrows will get raised in Washington.

Such is the case this week with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a Bush Administration carryover who is expected to keep his post. Gates has the qualifications to lead the department, even if it goes in a different direction.

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But critics believe Gates should be removed in order to rid the federal government of any trace of the Bush Administration. Critics have said Obama ran for the presidency on the platform of change, but cannot accomplish that with a defense secretary from the previous term.


Having Cabinet members from a different party than the president’s is nothing new. It has happened from time to time, but the overwhelming majority of the time the appointments come from within the president’s party.

President-elect Obama must walk the tightrope of finding the most qualified people with one arm tied behind his back. That’s because the pool of the smartest, most qualified people essentially gets cut in half.

Perhaps the placement of Cabinet members is one way the new president can improve the toxic culture in Washington. It’s not likely, but for the country to be unified it must have faith that the government is comprised of the most qualified people, regardless of party affiliation.

It is perhaps a nave concept to think a person’s party should not determine whether they should or should not be appointed to one of those vital positions, but as has been shown this week, the reality of politics will always hinder how effective government can be.