During 4½ years as secretary of Defense under presidents George W. Bush and Obama, Robert M. Gates was widely lauded as a shrewd national security mandarin who had seen it all, done it all and most important, could stay above it all in the partisan wars of Washington.
So the snarky put-downs and petulant asides in his impassioned, if somewhat contradictory, memoir, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” come as something of a surprise. Or delight.

Behind his mask of calm civility, Gates nursed grudges, tallied up slights and jotted down the caustic ripostes that he never delivered in public. The carping and zingers already have generated headlines.

Gates recounts his outrage at Obama closing an Oval Office meeting by warning “those of you writing your memoirs” that he had not made a decision. “I was offended by his suspicion that any of us would ever write about such sensitive matters,” Gates huffs in … his memoir. I LOVE THIS TOWN!

MEMOIRES  (Parody of “Mem’ries” from CATS)

Midnight, Not a sound from the white house
Has the press lost its memory?
 It is smiling alone
In the lamplight
 The book reviews collect at my feet
And Bob Woodward begins to moan

Memoirs All alone on the talk shows
I can smile at the old days
 I was beautiful then
I remember
 The time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again

Every press hit Seems to beat a fatalistic warning
Someone mutters and the white house sputters
Another news cycle dawning

 I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I mustn’t give in
When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin

Burnt out ends of smoky days
The stale cold smell of morning
A street lamp dies,
another night is over
Another day is dawning

 It’s so easy to read me
All alone with my memories
Of my days in the sun
If you buy my book
You’ll understand what happiness is
Quick – before a new memoir is begun!

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