Wednesday, January 7, 2009

DiFi v. Panetta: Face-saving time

The minor kerfluffle over Leon Panetta's nomination to be head of the CIA (is that position still referred to as DCI - Director of Central Intelligence?) is already cooling down. TPM yesterday reported that Dianne Feinstein was supporting Obama, after he and Biden both called her. So, as I expected, first we have a bit of face-saving: Obama and Biden both show Feinstein a little respect, she pledges her support. But of course she can't back down all the way:

"I understand the administration's desire to cut clean and open a new chapter and I support that. Whether those changes can be made" with Panetta at the helm, she added, remains to be seen.
So she'll ask some tough questions at the confirmation hearing, and Obama won't take her for granted. But that's actually a good thing. I'm all in favor of the Dems in Congress disagreeing with Obama when they feel they have to. That's healthy.

So it all worked out. At least that's the way it looks right now. The LA Times put this story on the front page, but I think they blew it somewhat out of proportion. On the LAT Op-Ed page, Tim Rutten argues in favor of Panetta, pointing out that some of the most experienced directors of the CIA, at least in terms of intelligence, have also been some of the worst.

I still think it's a good call. Time to move on to the next kerfluffle.

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