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Although DC insiders skewer each other all the time, it still can be fun to listen when someone who’s carried himself with the gravity of a deadly serious job – being Secretary of Defense – plunges into retirement, sells his memoir and lets loose with the snarkiness that he was forced to stifle during his lengthy government service. I’m referring to Robert Gates whose service included heading the Central Intelligence Agency and serving on the National Security Council.
He peppered the one-liners to about 1,500 hospital executives attending the annual health summit of the American Hospital Association in San Diego.
I love DC, he said, just not the people. The same way I feel about France, he added. There is almost a Biblical level of self-regard in DC. Turning a TV camera on a congressman has the same effect as a full moon on werewolves. People in DC get lost in thought because it’s all new territory for them.
And how does he regard the Affordable Care Act? He’d have preferred evolutionary change, incrementalism – in “Lego” fashion. The federal government is like a dinosaur, he said, a small brain and no fine motor skills. The only thing the government does well, he said, is war.
Entertaining. More than a little acidic. And, no, I’ve not read his new book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War.” But likely would before I’d read Hillary Clinton’s.