Robert Gates Overwhelimingly Confirmed as New Defense Secretary

It was 95 – 2, with the two no votes being from Republican Senators Santorum (PA) and Bunning (KY).

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly confirmed Robert Gates as the next defense secretary, replacing Donald Rumsfeld, an architect of the increasingly unpopular Iraq war.

The Senate voted 95-2 to approve President George W. Bush’s nominee only 24 hours after Gates won the unanimous endorsement of the Armed Services Committee — and just as a long-awaited bipartisan report arrived, urging more diplomacy and fewer U.S. troops in Iraq.

Only Republicans Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Jim Bunning of Kentucky voted against Gates.

Senators from both parties praised the ex-CIA chief’s candor; Gates had told them bluntly the United States was not winning the war in Iraq.

“Dr. Gates spoke with candor — a candor that has been sorely missing from the Department of Defense under this administration,” said Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat. “He recognized the high price that our troops are paying for the current policy.”

So, according to the Senate, criticizing the war in Iraq and announcing that we are not winning appear to be the only job requirements to be Secretary of Defense.

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