With Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggesting he'll step down next year, pundits are busy making predictions about who will replace him. Some have suggested Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) or former senator Sam Nunn. But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has worked closely with Gates to fine-tune U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, has emerged as an early favorite. Gates, a Republican, is the lone holdover from the Bush administration in President Obama's cabinet, so, in the words of one liberal blogger, the speculation about replacing him with Clinton is "Beltway catnip." But is Clinton really a likely choice to run the Pentagon?

It's not as far-fetched as it sounds: Sure, this is the kind of rumor that Washington loves, says Russell Berman at The Hill. But her supporters say "she has the most credibility with the military of any Democrat." Another plus for President Obama: Appointing Clinton would be "historic," as she would be the first woman to serve as Defense secretary and only the second person, after George C. Marshall, to have served as secretary of both State and Defense.
"Sec. Gates's exit sparks talk of Hillary Clinton taking over at the Pentagon"

Clinton's a smart choice because she's qualified: During the 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton already showed deep understanding "of the world's trouble spots," say the editors of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and she has "clearly has solidified her credentials" in two years as secretary of State. "Couple that with what's described as her warm relationship with the military and Defense secretary could be a smart fit."
"Gates, Defense and Hillary: Deft moves"

Whoever replaces Gates must respect his legacy: Maybe Hillary Clinton will get the job, says Pejman Yousefzadeh at theĀ New Ledger, or maybe it will go to one of the other possible nominees, such as Michele Fluornoy, currently Undersecretary of Defense. The important thing is that the next Defense Secretary does no harm to what should be his (or her) "most lasting legacy": Establishing a "more bipartisan, unified approach to foreign, national security, and defense policy."
"Shall he stay, or shall he go?"