EXCLUSIVE -- WEST WING MINDMELD: It didn’t leak, but 30,000 was the final number that Secretary Gates took to President Obama, in mid-October -- a reminder that the Pentagon chief is the most influential member of the Cabinet, bar none. His argument with the president in this regard was dispositive. This gives POTUS an airtight alibi against claims that 30,000 is a triangulated, political number, not based on any specific brigade configuration. (Gen. McChrystal is still figuring out the mix and match of forces that will add up to his authorized 30,000.)I find it nearly unbelievable that this didn't leak over the course of the last six weeks, especially having watched the press badger Geoff Morrell about how the recommendation process went. (Maybe this explains why he was acting so dang shifty.) Just the same, it's really interesting to see 1) just how influential Secretary Gates ended up being in this thing, and 2) exactly how much his views evolved from this time last year, when we were hearing things from him that were roughly akin to John Abizaid's "antibody" rationale for drawdown.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
According to Mike Allen's Playbook, which today has great coverage of the response to last night's speech, is generally awesome, and should be read by anyone who has even the vaguest interest in politics (and no, I'm not just saying this because he wished me a happy birthday in print once):