News yesterday of Leon Panetta's selection to be the Director of the CIA (and also, the expected appointment of ADM Denny Blair as the Director of National Intelligence). Lots of DC-based chatter about the Panetta choice, with some focusing on his Panetta's utter lack of intelligence community experience, some focusing on his legislative experience (8 terms in the House), and some talking about his time in the Clinton White House (Budget Director and Chief of Staff).
On the whole, I think Panetta is a good choice. He's an old DC hand, he knows how to get things done, he understands the appropriations process, he knows Congress, and he understands the White House. Good judgment and steady leadership is what CIA needs at the top, the spooks can have the #2 job and keep themselves happy.
What I don't understand here is why Panetta would take the job? Well, not true really. What interests me is the hypnotic lure of public service. Leon Panetta is 70 years old and firmly planted in his California think-tank. Most importantly, he used to be the White House Chief of Staff--you know, the guy who hauls the Director of Central Intelligence in and reads him the riot act when the President isn't happy. Except that under the new rubric, The Rahminator will be calling in ADM Blair for the horeswhipping....DCI is too far down the totem pole. What I'm getting at is that this is really a step down for Panetta, but it goes to show you the how strong the lure of public service is, especially when your party has been in the wilderness for a while.