Gates has been generally dubbed as forthright and honest by the gurus and there's no reason to think otherwise. He's also served in the military (Air Force), as did Rumsfeld, Bush 41 and Bush 43, the latter three as fighter pilots. This adds a dimension to Gates' account that's invaluable since he understands the ramifications accruing to war, especially including loss of life and treasure as well as the wounds suffered by GIs. By his own account, the latter two caused him much sadness and apprehension.
Perhaps the greatest disdain in the book is dealt Congress, for which he seems to have little respect, not that this represents much disconnect between him and most citizens, at least according to the polls. He used these words for the “majority of Congress”— “uncivil, incompetent in fulfilling basic constitutional responsibilities (such as timely appropriations), micromanagerial, parochial, hypocritical, egotistical, thin-skinned, often putting self (and reelection) before country.” Considering that the Senate, for instance, didn't pass a budget for at least three years, he's on point.
Watching a congressional hearing on C-Span is all that's necessary to see the uncivil aspect. Then-senator Hillary Clinton called General Petraeus a liar to his face (suspended belief) in a hearing and Senator Boxer upbraided an army general for not addressing her properly (he used ma'am) in another kangaroo committee-hanging. Neither lady would know a salute from an obscene gesture. Then-senator Biden addressed former Attorney General Gonzales in a hearing as “old buddy” and accused him of not “being very candid so far.”
Gates might have had senators McCain, Graham and Lieberman in mind when he used the term egotistical. Those three loudly and publicly urged Obama to attack Libya—no threat to any country—when Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mullen wisely, firmly warned against it in another hearing. McCain even went to the Benghazi region and picked out the butchers to whom to give weapons. He was dead wrong and the chaos that led to the “Benghazi Massacre” (then-state secretary Clinton's colossal blunder) was a result.
An incompetent Obama listened to these “three musketeers” and ignored military advice, fomenting a bloody fiasco that lasted seven months, not “just days, not weeks,” as Obama promised. Later, McCain did a photo-op with some Arabs probably in Lebanon and announced that he had discovered the correct Syrian butcher to whom to give weapons. Obama wisely ignored him but had to defer to Russky PM Putin for escaping the hole he had dug for himself by blabbing egotistical “commands” to Assad to vacate his Syrian presidency, then threatened the multiple “red-line” crossings.
The most damning aspect regarding Congress's incompetence is the fact that legislators don't read the bills they pass. The House passed cap-and-trade (democrats, 2010) without reading it and on a day when 300 pages were added to it the night before. Congress, without a republican vote, passed an unread Obamacare bill without reading it in 2010, and then-speaker Pelosi provided the wisdom that no one would know its contents until it was passed. She was right—stupidity to the nth degree.
Ego-driven gimmickry drives elections and reelections. John McCain put virtually unheard of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on the ticket in 2008 in an effort to get the all-important women's vote, just as the democrats did in 1984 in picking Geraldine Ferraro. It didn't work either time, but the solons figure the Great Unwashed are too dumb to see through their shenanigans. Disgusting!
Gates had some good as well as critical things to say about Obama but he maybe meant a bit of payback, too. Paying attention to three women (Clinton, Rice, Power) who wouldn't know an RPG from a candlestick, he cut Gates out of the loop, set decent Americans upon innocent Libyans and announced this action when starting a vacation in Brazil while Gates was on official business in Russia. That's bottom-of-the-barrel stuff.
And so it goes.