Pragmatic Style Makes Gates White House Heavyweight

Defense secretary helps dismantle missile shield program he backed under Bush
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2009 1:26 AM CDT
Defense Secretary Robert Gates meets with reporters at the Pentagon last week.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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(Newser) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates has bridged the gap between the Bush and Obama administrations and become a major player in reshaping national security policy in the process, officials tell the New York Times. His pragmatic style—as seen in his decision to ditch the missile defense system he signed off on under President Bush—has helped him become one of President Obama's most trusted advisers, aides say.

Gates—nicknamed "The Godfather" by Pentagon officials—still has the respect of many Republicans and has helped shield the Obama administration from attacks on its national security positions. Gates now finds himself caught between hawks and doves much as he was during the Bush administration, and is expected to play a vital role in the looming decision on whether or not to send more troops to Afghanistan.