Gates Plans to Retire in 2011
Unless he changes his mind again
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2010 11:12 AM CDT
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates speaks at the Pentagon Monday, Aug. 9, 2010, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(Newser) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates has always hated Washington, and he plans to get the heck out sometime next year, he revealed today in a lengthy interview with Fred Kaplan for Foreign Policy. “I think that it would be a mistake to wait until January 2012,” he reasons. “It might be hard to find a good person to take the job so late” in Barack Obama’s term, he reasons. Besides “this is not the kind of job you want to fill in the spring of an election year.”

Then again, Gates used to tell the media at every opportunity that it was “inconceivable” that he would stay on for Obama’s first term, and even carried around a clock counting down to the day he could leave town. It was, he confesses to Kaplan, a “covert action,” designed prevent Obama from asking him to stay—but ask Obama did. The president always knew “that if I were asked, I would say ‘Yes,’" says Gates. "In the middle of two wars, kids out there getting hurt and dying, there was no way I was going to say, ‘No.’” (Click here for AolNews's take on three dilemmas he'll leave behind.)