The values that makes Robert Gates an inspiring leader – and the ones that will make him a great president – can be captured in five guiding principles: Integrity, Statesmanship, Diplomacy, Pragmatism, and Service. If our elected leaders internalized these traits, our country would see a renewed sense of optimism and faith in our government and, ultimately, an assurance that our leaders can be trusted with the power we give them.
Integrity [+-] click for more
Integrity is making the right decision in an informed manner, even if it may not be popular. The American people entrust their leaders with enormous responsibility – over our money, our freedoms, and our future. We also must be able to trust that those leaders make decisions with humility, honesty, and respect for process. Integrity is in short supply in Washington, and we owe it to future generations to demand it from our elected representatives.
In his four years leading the Department of Defense, Robert Gates has rankled both Republican and Democratic lawmakers with his support of cutting unnecessary defense budget items and refocused efforts on the surges of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. These decisions were the results of careful study, deep analysis, and an abiding conviction that the concerns of our soldiers – and ultimately the American public – must come before the political pressures of the day. At Texas A&M, he led with openness and candor, always communicating and never grandstanding. He was honest and humble about his role and duties, and he never acted as if his title gave him any more right to respect than those around him. His integrity helps make him the great leader and public servant he is.
“[Robert Gates] is a person of uncommon resolve, intellect, and strength of character.” Senator Robert Dole (R-KS)
Statesmanship [+-] click for more
Americans need leaders who are more concerned with the next generation than with their next election - men and women who put aside the politics of the moment and focus on doing what is necessary to keep our country prosperous and free.
Throughout his service to our country, Gates has exemplified the values of a statesman, always standing up for what is right even when it is not popular. His leadership has always been far sighted and focused on solving the pressing problems of the moment while laying a firm foundation for future prosperity. We believe that a Gates Presidency would combine his vast experience with his clarity of vision to achieve real results and help chart a new and brighter course for this country’s future.
"A politician thinks about the next elections — the statesman thinks about the next generations." - James Freeman Clarke
"The statesman's duty is to bridge the gap between experience and vision.” - Henry Kissinger
Diplomacy [+-] click for more
Diplomacy is a critical mark of confident leadership – the ability to bridge seemingly impassable differences and bring different interests together to common ground for the good of achieving our goals and improving our future as a country. Polarization doesn’t solve problems, and partisan anger won’t inspire us to achieve.
Bob Gates has become a master of diplomacy in his career of public service. As he rose through the ranks at CIA, his intelligence briefings on the USSR helped maintain the tenuous balance that kept the Cold War from boiling over. He bridged partisan and intra-governmental divides at the National Security Council and liaised with Capitol Hill and the White House under 7 different presidents, Democrat and Republican. He always speaks his mind, yet only after he has listened to both his supporters and his opponents. His rare brand of openness helps him understand thorny issues and bring all sides together to find common ground. As president, he would be uniquely capable to mute the partisan rancor of Washington and help both parties work together for the future of this country.
“There are those who say it is an impractical and romantic idea that we can replace polarization with civility, cooperation and partnership. To the doubters, I answer that we achieved it in the Senate Intelligence Committee with the help of Bob Gates only 15 years ago. It is not only an option we can achieve with hard work and determination, it is imperative if the United States is to remain the world leader.” Senator David Boren (D-OK)
Pragmatism [+-] click for more
Pragmatism could be described as the ability to hold strong positions confidently but loosely enough to adjust them when the facts call for it. Though pureness in ideology can be appealing in a political candidate, rarely does a steadfast adherence to preset policy positions allow for the flexibility to adjust to the demands of governing a 21st century republic engaged in the global economy. Our leader should strive to govern with honor and principle but should never be afraid to change their positions if the facts no longer support them.
As Senator Boren noted, Dr. Gates has never led with a steadfast adherence to a set of preconceived ideological positions but rather with a strong sense of direction, clarity of vision, and awareness of the landscape and how new revelations may change his approach to a task. As Secretary of Defense, he has listened to his battlefield commanders about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and implemented their suggestions into his strategy with great success. He did not enter the job with a preconceived vision of how he would fix the wars, facts be damned, though his long career in the military and intelligence fields would qualify him to form such a vision. Instead, he adapted his strategy to the reality of the conditions around him and pursued the course of action that was best supported by the facts. He has led with a pragmatism that has saved untold amounts of blood and treasure in wars that until a very short time ago seemed lost. We believe Dr. Gates would approach his agenda as President in the same manner – not as a partisan shill or an ideological crusader, but as a realist with a vision and the know-how to get the job done.
“With [Secretary Gates’s] extensive experience in government… he’s developed this perspective of trying to cut through the shaft [to] figure out what it is we’re trying to accomplish, what our goals are, what’s the best way of getting there. And it’s not that we agree on everything, but we come to our internal debates with a respect for the other person and an understanding of the institutional prerogatives that we both each represent. For me, it’s been a particular pleasure to work him." - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, November 9, 2010
Service [+-] click for more
Too many men and women in government seem to seek positions and titles for their own selfish gain. The accumulation of power should not be a goal of any public servant, and our elected representatives must know when it’s time to step down. Career politicians plague our government with stagnancy, corruption, and greed for power.
Bob Gates, however, has spent his career in public service in Washington yet has used each new role not as a vehicle for personal gain but as a platform from which to serve the American people. For example, when he had reached what he thought was the twilight of his career – service as the 22nd President of Texas A&M University – he said that he achieved the job he hoped never to leave. But duty called just four years later, and Dr. Gates answered. When his country needed him most, he stepped up to the plate without complaint. He felt it was his duty to serve, and that mattered more to him than titles or comforts.
Politicians must regain their sense of public service. Dr. Gates’s career of selfless service is a perfect example to follow.
“Public business, my son, must always be done by somebody. It will be done by somebody or another. If wise men decline it, others will not; if honest men refuse it, others will not.” - John Adams