Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who served in various capacities under five Republican presidents, said Sunday that the GOP is unrecognizable today and playing a “very dangerous” political game.
And that gives him “serious concerns about the future,” he revealed on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Gates slammed Republican lawmakers’ complaints that the presidential election was rigged as nothing more than “political gaming rather than a real conviction that the election was stolen.” How that “manifests itself in the next election I think is going to be a challenge,” he told host John Dickerson. “It’s very dangerous.”
“I’ve ... worked for eight presidents; five of them were Republicans,” he said. “I don’t think any of them would recognize the Republican Party today ... the values and the principles that the Republican Party stood for under those five presidents are hard to find these days.”
He called Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) “courageous” for standing up against her fellow Republicans’ baseless claims of a rigged election. “She’s a person of real integrity,” Gates said. “Internal politics on the Hill is another matter.”
Gates was defense secretary for both George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He was CIA director under George H.W. Bush, CIA deputy director for Ronald Reagan, and served on the National Security Council under Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon.
Gates said he is concerned about the conflicts over the election results and the Capitol riot. But he also fears the “racism that we see in our society” and the political “paralysis” gripping the nation making it impossible to evolve. It’s time to “actually get some things done in Washington that we hadn’t been able to get done for a long time,” Gates said.
“We’re a flawed country, we’ve always had flaws,” he conceded. “But we’re unique in that we’re the only country that actually talks about those flaws and actually works to try and fix them. We are an aspirational country, and we’ve kind of lost that message, it seems to me,” Gates added.
Gates also addressed the current conflict between the Israeli government and the Palestinians. Despite Donald Trump’s repeated boast that his administration had achieved peace in the Middle East, Gates said he believes there’s “very little prospect of a peace between” the Israelis and the Palestinians at this point.
He said President Joe Biden’s low-key approach to the current conflict instead of being “front and center” was “probably not a bad thing.”
Gates added: “When the United States is out in front, it automatically creates lots of antibodies in a lot of different places. But if the U.S. is playing a constructive role behind the scenes, often it can be much more effective.”
Though Gates has criticized Biden in the past, he said he’s “encouraged” by how he’s handling the presidency.
Check out the full interview in the video up top. Gates addresses Israel at the start. He talks about the Republican Party beginning at 26:30.