Bob Gates was, as we all know, named Secretary of Defense by President Bush. When Barack Obama was elected, he had virtually no foreign policy or defense experience, and assumed the media would hammer him on this until they were satisfied that he was performing the way that they wanted. He asked Bob Gates to remain in office until Obama did not have to fear the media on this issue.

In any presidential administration, a number of Cabinet offices and other high profile jobs open up after the midterm elections. There are a number of reasons for this. For one thing, some executive appointments just don’t work out. They are either incompetent or they are unwilling to acquiesce with the president’s objectives. Another reason is that some enter the Cabinet but find that it is harder work than they anticipated. They tend to burn out which makes them useless when trying to administer a huge, unwieldy bureaucracy. Yet another reason for their removal is that, usually the midterms result in a loss of seats for the president’s party, so removing some of the executive administrators allows these people to fill their slots.

I think Gates falls into a fourth group; he may have just offered to stay for two years. He may have been one of the longest-serving Secretary of Defenses in recent history. Also, he has helped accomplish many of Obama’s defense objectives. Iraq and Afghanistan are no longer something the media care about, so Obama can do anything he wants there and the noise will stop soon after. The flurry of excitement about DADT will end now that legislation has passed, and been signed into law. The next two years, with Republicans controlling budget concerns, may very well result in large budget cuts for the Defense Department. So, he will likely get out while the getting’s good.

Given that, I’ve come up with three potential candidates to replace him, all of whom are likely to get Senate approval.

Hillary Clinton – The Wikileaks scandal has caused irreparable harm to the State Department as long as she’s in charge. However, she remains a powerful force within the Democratic Party. She has a solid base in both NYC and Los Angeles. Her husband probably was sought to speak for more Senate candidates than was Obama. The only down side that I can think of is that she may use the office as a stepping stone to run in 2012, but this seems far-fetched.

Joe Sestak – I think he is the highest ranking military officer to serve in Congress, so it’s pretty hard to dispute his credentials. He lost the Senate race in Pennsylvania against Pat Toomey, but he fought the good fight. He could very well be rewarded by giving him this post. His downside is that he may be too straight talking to b e a cabinet member.

Lindsey Graham – Graham is a Republican Senator from South Carolina. But in a state that has moved toward the Tea Party, Graham may find himself the odd man out. Thus, rather than face a primary challenge, he might want to go the Executive branch. His downside is that he appears to be emotionally beholden to John McCain and Joe Lieberman. My guess is that Obama wouldn’t want secret defense documents suddenly appearing in their mailboxes, and then provided to any foreign governments to which they may have allegiance.