Just to remind those of our readers who do not follow American politics obsessively: President-Elect Obama has selected Leon E. Panetta, another Clinton retread, to be the next head of the CIA, an organization that is in deep trouble, mostly of its own doing. For some aspects of the troubles think back to the ridiculous Valerie Plame affair and the constant underhand briefings against President Bush.
The trouble is that Mr Panetta has no background in either intelligence work or administration. Like the President-Elect himself he has done various things but nothing that would justify a high-powered position like that. Needless to say, there has been an outcry among politicians, including Vice President-Elect Biden, Senator Diane Feinstein (who appears to be backtracking on her well-justified criticisms so one wonders what she has been promised), among intelligence officials (Obama had better be careful there or they will start briefing against him as well) and commentators.
Instapundit links to an article in the Washington Post, entitled "Obama is under fire over Panetta selection". It's a good read, coming as it does after a number of curious mis-steps by the President-Elect and his advisers.
Glenn Reynolds picks out one quote:
The Panetta uproar starts Obama off on the wrong foot with the committee and intelligence professionals and was the latest glitch in what has largely been an unusually smooth and carefully choreographed transition.And asks:
How many "glitches" do you need before it's no longer "unusually smooth and carefully choreographed?"Suddenly I was back in 1997 and the early months of the Blair government with the media conducting its obsessive honeymoon. As one scandal and unpleasant story after another broke we were told that this was the first glitch in an otherwise extraordinarily successful and charismatic leadership. Sooner or later, of course, they had to admit that there were far too many glitches and the media turned on Blair with a vengeance.
To be fair, those mis-steps occurred after Blair became Prime Minister. If this is anything to go by, Obama's presidency promises to be highly entertaining. Then again, who runs the CIA is of some importance to all of us.