Friday, January 09, 2009

Was Leon Panetta a good pick for the CIA?

There are people of both parties who question President Obama's selection of Leon Panetta to head the CIA. It's a political choice, they say, chosen only because he's close to the President elect. He is a man of intellect and integrity, but has no experience and no training in intelligence work. No matter how good he could become eventually, he'll face a steep learning curve, and this is not a post for on-the-job training.

I agree. I believe he's a gamble that will significantly increase the odds that there will be a terrorist attack on US soil. But I also believe that he should be quickly confirmed, with no reservations.


Because he's the man President Obama wants. That's the compelling factor. Yes, the Senate has the right to advise and consent as they please- or don't please. But the criterion, in my opinion, should be this: if your beef with a nominee wouldn't be grounds to impeach him were he already in office, then it's not grounds to prevent him taking office.

That's the real test of democracy. Not elections- the "People's Democratic Republics" hold elections all the time. The test of a democracy is whether the election means anything. The president elect must be allowed the personnel he wants, the policies he wants, the chance to do the things he promised to do. He was elected in the cleanest, most decisive election in a generation, and election have consequences. He is now the decider.

We can survive bad appointments. We can survive bad Presidents (haven't we spent the last 16 years proving that?) What we cannot survive is subverting democracy, even if you believe you're right.

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