Talking out loud with Marc Ambinder yesterday, I realized that I hoped a president Obama would ask Bob Gates to stay on as defense secretary. Gates has been one of the real stars of the Bush second term, managing to guide the military between the rapids of Cheney and the rocks of reality. He's an immensely impressive, level-headed, pragmatic conservative, and he wouldn't, I think, be immune to outreach from an incoming Democratic administration faced with extreme challenges in the Middle East. No such arrangement could be made before the election, of course. But I figured it would be worth airing the possibility.