Visiting Iraq with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, columnist Maureen Dowd wrote about the challenge of ramping up U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan when the majority of that country's recruits are illiterate and can make more money fighting for the Taliban (Gates gave recruits a raise). Dowd also tried to get a fix on how the "disciplined, analytical, pragmatic, introverted" Pentagon boss came by his calm. "Where I do think I bring something unusual is, I think I have uncommon common sense, whether it's growing up in Kansas or just my life experience," said Gates, who grew up in Wichita. Dowd suggested he got testy, though, about some Democrats' idea that President Obama "had been rolled by the generals" on the troop surge. "That's ridiculous," Gates said.