Few Surprises Expected at Gates' Hearings

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All eyes will be on Texas A&M President Robert Gates Tuesday morning. The Senate Armed Services Committee will question the nominee for Secretary of Defense, though many experts say Gates is all but a lock for the job.

Robert Gates' whirlwind Washington rounds wound their way to Texas Senator John Cornyn Monday on the eve of Gates' confirmation hearings.

"I'm very much looking forward to hearings," Cornyn said. "I know he is as well, and my hope is that he'll be confirmed later this week."

And national security expert Randy Larsen say there's no need to expect the unexpected on this occasion.

"The greatest surprise would be if there were not a quick confirmation, but I don't think we have to worry about that," Larsen said. "Mr. Gates is well known to both sides of the isle and respected, even though there are some issues from past times."

But Gates alleged involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal and criticism that he has politicized intelligence will only serve as major talking points in Larsen's mind, not as something that will disqualify him from taking the job.

"It will be difficult," Larsen said. "There will be a lot of tough questions, but in the end, he will be easily confirmed.

"The term is, 'he plays well in the sandbox.' That's going to go a long way here, and I think that's something that's really needed in Iraq and a lot of other things in national security right now."

Larsen's predictions: a long day of hearings, tough questions in the closed session, and in the end, a two-thirds vote of approval from the Senate.