PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressed consternation regarding the current state of the presidential campaign and the state of leadership in Washington DC.
Gates, talking with Chris Stigall about his new book, A Passion for Leadership, on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT, questioned the motives of many of the presidential candidates in this election cycle.
“It’s pretty disappointing, as a matter of fact, because nearly most of the candidates are offering grandiose promises or grandiose threats and, in many instances, they’re completely unrealistic. You can’t tell whether they’re actually misinformed and believe what they’re saying or whether they’re just being cynical or opportunistic. But, a lot of the problems they’re talking about are complex and they’re tough and addressing them is going to be tough. To present simplistic solutions with bombast is not very helpful to the American people understanding the challenges that are in front of us.”
He pointed out that governing successfully requires the President to be open to ideas from all sides.
“The reality is, in a democracy like ours, whether it’s in the private or public sector, people cannot get anything without compromise without taking into account the views of people who have a different point of view. My attitude in the public sector is those who refuse to compromise don’t understand the Constitution because the Constitution itself is a bundle of compromises made by the Founder Fathers. Particularly, in the political or the public arena, even Ronald Reagan acknowledged, you can’t get all you want the first time around, so you get what you can get and you persistently come back for the rest, and that’s the same approach to reform.”
Regarding his time serving as Secretary of Defense under both President Obama and President Bush, Gates stated Bush’s previous executive experience was crucial in accomplishing the administration’s objectives.
“From a day-to-day management style, President Bush had more experience, having been a governor of Texas, where President Obama had not had that kind of executive experience. I think one of the shortcomings that I found in the Obama Administration was the difference between making a great speech and articulating a great vision and then developing and actual plan and implementation of that plan.”