The most important appointment decision Obama will make during the transition, bar none, is who becomes, or remains, Secretary of Defense. As I have noted in the past, the Department of Defense oversees the expenditure of 52% of all discretionary spending, rendering it literally impossible for any other cabinet Secretary to oversee as much federal money. Further, keeping Gates on would only worsen Democratic image problems on national security, as he would be the second consecutive non-Democratic Secretary of Defense nominated by a Democratic President. The message would be clear: even Democrats agree that Democrats can't run the military.
I think the budget point is valid. I'm less troubled by the image problem. If Barack Obama closes this thing out in Afghanistan and Iraq, everyone will remember that Bush started and bungled, and Obama cleaned-up and finished. My biggest question is what sort of job has Gates actually done? If he's sucked it up he should go. If not, given the current entanglements, I'm less inclined to skewer Obama over this one. Andrew is, obviously, pleased, Jason Zenerle debunks this silly notion that retaining Gates doesn't count as bipartisantship because Gates, evidently, isn't partisan enough.