In a pretty remarkable turnaround, the Senate has just approved the nomination of Michael Donley to be Air Force Secretary by unanimous consent. For cream in the coffee, the Senate also approved the nomination of the Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. William Fraser.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Majority Leader, was on the floor of the Senate offering Donley's nomination for a vote as I began typing and he was cleared about one sentence into the story. Just a few weeks ago, the conventional wisdom was that Donley had no chance of ever being confirmed, unless of course, he somehow hung on until the next administration.
One of the reasons Defense Secretary Robert Gates pushed hard to get the Air Force nominations through is the benighted state of the service, with problems ranging from the nuclear screw-ups to the tanker fiasco and the numerous ethical and legal lapses of senior service leaders. A leader cleared by the Senate has much more political heft to throw around.
[Many thanks to Regan Lachapelle, Sen. Reid's deputy communications director, for her updates on this.]