Saturday, June 7, 2014

the last book I ever read (Duty by Robert M. Gates, excerpt eight)

from Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War by Robert M. Gates:

Biden asked to meet with me privately after the meeting. We met in a small conference room, and he asked me for my thoughts on how he should define his role in the national security arena. I said there were two very different models—George H. W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Bush’s staff had attended all interagency national security meetings, including the Principals Committee, thereby keeping him well informed, but almost always he shared his views only with the president. Cheney, by contrast, not only had his staff attend all lower-level interagency meetings, he routinely attended Principals Committee meetings and meetings of principals with the national security advisor. He was open about his views and argued them forcefully. His staff did likewise at other meetings. I told Biden I would recommend the Bush model because it more befitted the dignity of the vice president as the second-highest elected official in the country; and more practically in Washington, if no one know what he was advising the president, no one could ever know whether he was winning or losing arguments. If he were to participate in all meetings below those chaired by the president, then he was just another player whose scorecard was public knowledge. He listened closely, thanked me, and then did precisely the opposite of what I recommended, following the Cheney model to a T.

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