Of course, I have to believe that if Barack Obama did not actually believe that the surge overseen by Secretary Gates really has been successful, he would not have consented to keep the Secretary on. By agreeing to retain Secretary Gates at the Pentagon, the President-elect has not-too-subtly endorsed the very surge and counterinsurgency efforts he spent time denouncing on the campaign trail.
One wishes that he would finally admit as much. The votes have been cast, they have been counted, the Electoral College will meet and certify the results and Barack Obama will go ahead and become the 44th President of the United States. I think it is finally safe for him to say that when it came to figuring out what to do in Iraq, President Bush, Secretary Gates, General Petraeus and Senator McCain were right . . . and Barack Obama was wrong.
Barring such a verbal admission, I suppose that we will have to take this reappointment of Secretary Gates to constitute the closest thing to an admission of error the President-elect can bring himself to offer the rest of the country. Speaking of admissions, Chris Bowers admits that "keeping Gates on would only worsen Democratic image problems on national security, as he would be the second consecutive non-Democratic Secretary of Defense nominated by a Democratic President. The message would be clear: even Democrats agree that Democrats can't run the military." I am happy to take his word for the matter.