Defense Secretary Robert Gates didn't quite get down on his knees and say pretty please, but he did ask the Senate Armed Services Committee today to act "as soon as possible" on the nomination of Michael Donley to be Air Force Secretary and Gen. William Fraser to be the service's vice chief of staff.
He said he wanted to "encourage this committee." What he meant, of course, was please, please, please get that Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) to lift the hold she has placed on Donley's nomination. Cantwell clearly feels strongly about this issue, having taken the time to issue a statement when Gates canceled the current tanker program to say she would keep her hold on Donley to make sure the Air Force did the right thing.
And Cantwell's spokeswoman told me Tuesday that the senator "does intend to keep the hold on the Air Force secretary." It seems Cantwell has requested classified information from the Pentagon about the tanker "and has not received a reply." So, even though Gates says "the Air Force is undergoing a critical period of transition and renewal, and it is vitally important that the full leadership team is in place and confirmed," he'll just have to wait until his department gets Cantwell her information.