A new memoir by former Defense Secretary Bob Gates is expected to be a juicy — and critical — inside look at the ups and downs of foreign policy in the Obama administration.
One of those details included in a New York Times review of the book, reveals Gates’ flat dismissal of Vice President Joe Biden’s foreign policy credentials.
Gates, who was appointed by President George W. Bush and kept in the post by President Obama, is now out of the job and being quite frank, according to the Times.
He called Biden, who served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for eight years, a “man of integrity.” But he slammed his foreign policy judgment with this line reminiscent of a campaign attack line: “I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
In a statement, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden responded to Gates’ book by saying that Obama “welcomes differences of view among his national security team.” And she defended Biden’s contributions to Obama’s foreign policy team.
“The President disagrees with Secretary Gates’ assessment,” Hayden said. “[F]rom his leadership on the Balkans in the Senate, to his efforts to end the war in Iraq, Joe Biden has been one of the leading statesmen of his time, and has helped advance America’s leadership in the world.”
“President Obama relies on his good counsel every day,” she added.
As rare as it is for a former official to so quickly after leaving the administration pointedly criticize the sitting vice president, it’s even rarer because the secretary of defense is often expected to be a somewhat non-partisan figure.
Turns out, whoever, that the line Gates used in his book is quite similar to ones being bandied around by Republican operatives and Republican senators for several years now.
Here are four examples:
Former George W. Bush Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove in 2010: “Since his election to the U.S. Senate in the early 70s, Joe Biden has been on the wrong end of virtually every foreign policy dispute since then.”
Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer in 2012: The vice president over the last 30 years “holds the American record for [being] wrong on the most issues in foreign affairs ever. … He is the Herbert Hoover of American foreign policy.”
Marc Thiessen, speechwriter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush, in 2012: “The fact is Biden has a near-perfect record of being wrong about almost every major foreign policy question that the United States has faced in the past three decades.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in 2012: “Biden has — has been consistently wrong on every national security issue that I’ve been involved in in the last 20 years or so.”
The book is out Jan. 14.