Fred Kaplan writes on what Robert Gates has brought to the party:
Before Gates, the National Security Council was dysfunctional. Rumsfeld would skip meetings and refuse to let his deputies speak on his behalf. His tag-team partner, Vice President Dick Cheney, would block the NSC from forming a consensus on issues that concerned him; instead he would meet alone with President Bush afterward, a practice that compelled the secretary of state—Colin Powell in the first term, Condoleezza Rice in the second—to go around the process as well.
When Gates came onboard, he demanded high-level meetings, with all the players present, debating their positions all at once before the president, with a decision made at the end. Some officials contend that it is because of Gates that U.S. troops are coming out of Iraq a bit more rapidly than they might have otherwise—and that Bush hasn’t bombed Iran.
This holiday season, we can all give thanks for adult supervision in the White House.