When Robert Gates left Texas A&M for the Pentagon several years ago, at Pappy Bush’s behest to pull incompetent W.’s chestnuts out of the Iraq War fires, a debate raged on Aggie web forums: Should possibly the greatest president in Texas A&M history be awarded the vaunted Aggie Ring? Eventually, common sense prevailed and Gates assumed his position among A&M’s storied leaders, beside Earl Rudder and Sullivan Ross, but without the sacred ring one must earn through the student experience. Instead, the Corps of Cadets that Gates joined on early-morning runs awarded him a pair of custom-made senior boots—which is no small honor for a non-student in Aggieland.
The rave reviews of the Gates administration stand in stark contrast to the enmity heaped upon his predecessor, Ray Bowen, and the lukewarm reception afford his successor, Elsa Murano. Yet, his administration was not perfect, despite the Teflon coating that remains two years after he vacated the eighth floor of Rudder Tower. With Gates’ willingness to stay on as Secretary of Defense under Barack Obama, not every Aggie’s choice for president, is it now time to seek a more critical examination of his four years as A&M’s president? Will his willingness to serve a hated Democrat open the door to a critical review of his administration as our university’s leader? (more…)