Face The Nation
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle questioned the decision
by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates to publish a behind-the-scenes memoir that is highly critical of the Obama administration, saying it could hamper the
president's ability to conduct foreign policy.
Gates' memoir, published last week, calls
President Obama's team "by far
the most centralized and controlling in national security of any I had seen
since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger ruled the roost," and took
particular aim at Vice President Joe Biden at being well-intentioned but frequently
wrong on foreign policy issues. The White House has defended Biden.
Even Sen. Marco
Rubio, R-Fla., who is himself one of Mr. Obama's many critics, said the timing
of the book could hurt the country.
preference would be that people would refrain from writing these sorts of
things until the president is out of office because I think it undermines the
ability to conduct foreign policy," Rubio said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
But because the book is out there already, Rubio went ahead
and questioned both the president and former Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton, who he could face in 2016 if either decides to run for president.
"I don't think we can ignore what's in that book and I
think, for many of us, it confirms our worst fears," Rubio said. "This is an
administration full of people that either have the wrong convictions, or, in
the case of former Secretary Clinton, lacked the courage of her convictions."
He pointed specifically to an anecdote in Gates' book that
recalled a conversation between Clinton and Mr. Obama where both admitted their
opposition to the 2007 surge in Iraq was, on some level, motivated by politics.
He also suggested Mr. Obama should not have announced an exit date for the war
"Our allies see us as unreliable and our enemies feel
emboldened. And I think that this confirms our worst fears, that this is
an administration that lacks a strategic foreign policy and, in fact, is
largely driven by politics and tactics," Rubio said.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., echoed Rubio's belief that the
book's timing could be damaging, especially while American troops are serving
"I just wish he could have waited a little bit longer,"
But he praised Gates for his service and put a positive spin
on what Gates portrayed about Obama's ambivalence about his own policies in
"He comments about the
president being concerned, about having second thoughts about putting troops in
harm's way. I know the president. I know he cares about the troops," Cummings
In an interview with Rita
Braver of "CBS Sunday Morning" Gates defended his decision not to wait to
publish the book.
"The fact that it
deals with getting in to wars, getting out of wars and frankly seemed to me
with the experience of -- and perspective of working for eight presidents and
having been secretary for four and a half years, I didn't think the waiting
until 2017 to weigh in on these issues and in a comprehensive and thoughtful
way made any sense," Gates said.
"People gave me a lot of credit when I was in office of
being blunt and candid about what I felt about things," he added. "I could
hardly be any less in writing a book."
Face The Nation