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They're Loving Bob Gates

On the job for less than a year, Defense Secretary Bob Gates is winning widespread praise for building a bipartisan approach to handling the war and military issues. "It's a breath of fresh air," said Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee. "He's far more open minded. He welcomes other ideas, he solicits ideas."

Levin said that Gates's approach is much different from those of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney. For example, he sited Gates's recent comments on Iran and missile defense.

"It's a much more cautious thoughtful approach," said Levin. "You compare his statements to Cheney's statements. Cheney has the same old ideological rigidity and rashness and lack of any kind if nuance, cockiness. In Gates, you've got a nuanced thing."

Specifically on the war in Iraq, Levin said that Gates has made substantive proposals to Democrats, especially on the issue of troop reductions. "I honestly feel that there is at least a subtle shift here which is aimed at bipartisanship, aimed at getting the troops out of Iraq faster rather than this open-ended approach that the president has been taking."

By Paul Bedard