Keeping Gates

One of the things that’s sent the blogosphere all a flutter recently is the idea of Obama retaining Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense for at least his first term. While I see the merits and am sympathetic to Gates’ realist views (and respect him standing up to the uniformed command structure), I suppose that ultimately I agree with Matthew Yglesias; the problem is that by retaining Gates, Obama re-enforces the message that Republicans are better with national security issues. The same thing goes for Chuck Hagel. Obama should pick a Democrat for Defense, in what could be a message changing year. After 8 years of Bush, Democrats realistically could claim the mantle of the party of national security and foreign policy competence.