French Dictator Napoleon Bonaparte once said of Charles Maurice de Talleyrand that like garbage, Talleyrand floated to the top of the harbor. He also hired Talleyrand to be the Grand Chamberlain of The French Empire. The two had quite the falling out after which Napoleon referred to him as um, fertilizer in a silk stocking. Talleyrand then went on to negotiate on France’s behalf after Napoleon received his ticket to Elba.
For some reason Talleyrand comes to mind as I watch the comings and goings of second-rate DC careerists with a bemused and mordant contempt. Jake Tapper tells us that yet another chunk of um, fertilizer has successfully achieved buoyancy above the current District of Columbia political cesspool. Ladies and Gentleman, Mr. Tapper gives you your next Secretary of Defense:
Sources tell ABC News that President Obama will nominate CIA director Leon Panetta to replace Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The president will nominate Gen. David Petraeus to serve as director of the CIA. The president will also nominate Marine General John Allen to replace Petraeus as ISAF commander in Afghanistan, and Ryan Crocker as US Ambassador to Afghanistan, replacing Karl Eikenberry.
To examine the career of Leon Panetta is to look back on the career of the consummate careerist and political survivor. Answers.com gives us a rundown of Panetta’s political CV.
After his discharge from the Army in 1966, the 28-year-old Panetta became an aide to moderate Republican Thomas H. Kuchel, U.S. senator from California.
On May 26, 1970, he joined New York City mayor John V. Lindsay as an executive assistant for intergovernmental relations.
In 1976 he won the Democratic nomination for the 16th (now the 17th) Congressional District and defeated Republican incumbent Burt I. Talcott, receiving 53 percent of the vote. He served for 16 years.
As head of OMB Panetta helped the Clinton administration pass the hard-fought budget bill of 1993 (it passed the House by one vote) and the easily passed budget bill of 1994. In July of 1994 Panetta was appointed chief of staff to President Clinton and served until 1997.
In January 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Panetta for the post of CIA Director; he was confirmed by the full Senate on February 12, 2009 and assumed the office the next day.
Panetta’s choice to be CIA Director surprised many. Senator Diane Feinstein was not in the least bit pleased. She offered the following commentary.
"I was not informed about the selection of Leon Panetta to be the CIA director. I know nothing about this, other than what I've read. My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best-served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time," Feinstein said
Leon Panetta’s performance in office was not exactly the stuff of legend. When testifying before Congress about what was happening in Egypt, as acting Director of The CIA, he sourced his information to the news media. Mediaite describes the fustercluck below.
CIA Director Leon Panetta testified to Congress today of a “strong likelihood” that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would step down by the end of the day. The report of his impending resignation was only eclipsed by the news that Mubarak would NOT be stepping down as Panetta had indicated to congress. The worse part isn’t that Panetta was basing his statement on on media reports (and not intelligence.).
And yet, despite his buffoonish bureaucratic hackery at CIA, the DC Aristocracy of Pull will pull Leon to the surface of the harbor. The Five-Sided Puzzle Palace is about to become somewhat more puzzling to the untrained observer. Stop expecting reason and order in the direction of our nation’s military affairs. Perhaps its proper irony that the man now in charge of Versailles Upon The Potomac reminds me so fittingly of Charles Maurice de Talleyrand. Maybe this particular piece of fertilizer in a silk stocking can figure out how to salvage the embarrassment that is Libya. Time will surely tell.