The mudslinging continues.
First, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in his memoir “Duty,” slammed Vice President and former Senator Joe Biden for being “wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
Now, Biden has fired back at Gates in a recent New Yorker profile:
Bob Gates has been wrong about everything … You go back, and everything in the last forty years, there’s nothing that I can think of, major fundamental decisions relative to foreign policy, that I can think he’s been right about!
Biden cites Gates’ failings in his assessment of Cold War foe Mikhail Gorbachev, as well as Gates’ views on two military engagements:
Bob Gates is wrong about the advice he gave President Reagan about how to deal with Gorbachev! That he wasn’t real. Thank God the President didn’t listen to him. Bob Gates was wrong about the Balkans. Bob Gates was wrong about the bombing. Bob Gates was wrong about the Vietnam War, for Christ’s sake.
In an interview with NPR following the release of “Duty,” Gates compiled a similar list of positions on major foreign policy issues on which he believes Biden was wrong:
The vice president, when he was a senator — a very new senator — voted against the aid package for South Vietnam, and that was part of the deal when we pulled out of South Vietnam to try and help them survive. He said that when the Shah fell in Iran in 1979 that that was a step forward for progress toward human rights in Iran. He opposed virtually every element of President Reagan’s defense buildup. He voted against the B-1, the B-2, the MX and so on. He voted against the first Gulf War. So on a number of these major issues, I just — I, frankly, over a long period of time, felt that he had been wrong.
Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s fact checker gives Biden and Gates a rating of one Pinocchio with respect to their foreign policy spat, indicating that while “both men clearly are exaggerating when they claim that the other guy was completely wrong for 40 years…on many of the specific issues they each raise, they come close to nailing each other’s mistakes.”
There has been longstanding enmity between the two figures, with Biden voting against Gates’ nomination as C.I.A. director and abstaining from voting in Gates’ confirmation as Secretary of Defense.
Gates’ relationship with Biden contrasts with his relationship with another potential 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.
While Gates may have revealed some damaging information about the former Secretary of State in “Duty,” he largely writes of her favorably, stating, “I found her smart, idealistic but pragmatic, tough-minded, indefatigable, funny, a very valuable colleague, and a superb representative of the United States all over the world.”
David Brock, founder of the left-wing outfit Media Matters went so far as to say, “I think the surprising part is that he [Gates] really does seem to be critical of almost everyone that he’s worked with across administrations. It does seem like he goes out of his way to single her [Hillary Clinton] out for a lot of positive comment and praise.”
In any event, perhaps the most interesting anecdote from the New Yorker profile is when Biden alludes to a potential presidential race in 2016, in which he would be eager to debate Gates:
I can hardly wait—either in a Presidential campaign or when I’m out of here—to debate Bob Gates. Oh, Jesus.