President Barack Obama with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012 (Photo: Getty)
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President Obama and the Memoir Writers

These books do not make the President look good, but in many respects they make their authors look no better. This is not because these books seem petty or disloyal, but because the authors’ criticisms of the President are a surprisingly frank admission that they were unable to do their jobs well. Being an effective cabinet member, advisor or confidante to a President or other leader does not just require the ability to give good advice, or know the right policy solution, but to win the argument and persuade the principle as well. Having the right policy recommendations is easy. Turning that idea into policy is the hard part. If you can only do the former, you are probably better suited for academia or the think tank world rather than a position of real influence on foreign policy. If Defense Secretaries Gates or Panetta were unable to persuade the President to follow their advice, as they both seem to be claiming, that demonstrates a failure to do a big part of their job.

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