I have a long freelance magazine piece about to come out on one of Gates’ likely successors, and one of its minor themes is how maddeningly difficult it’ll be to be the post-Gates defense secretary. Pretty much only Charlie Dunlap doesn’t like Gates. Immediately, the military will pine for the glory days of Robert Gates, even when (and because of!) the dude was extending Iraq tours to 15 months; ethering long-standing service spending priorities; and firing generals like he was guest-hosting The Apprentice. Gates’ successor will stew over the fact that s/he has to follow Gates while Gates had the dumb luck to follow Donald Rumsfeld and un-fuck the Rumsfeld-era military. Life is unfair.
And it just got way unfairer! MTV University — whatever that is — names Gates the man of the year. What defense secretary does that? Sure, MTV is ossified and no one cares about it, but surely the MOTY is a barometer of how this man has gone mainstream. This is like Gates’ Pleased To Meet Me. It’s like Das Racist in the No Reservations Christmas special. It’s like Franzen post-Oprah without the angst. Gates isn’t leaving the Pentagon, he’s dropping the fucking mic. Who in his or her right mind would want to pick it up?