Opinion: Will Leon Panetta be the next body under Obama’s bus?


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It’s been a bumpy few days on the new Obama administration bus, what with all the bodies throwing themselves under the shiny chassis -- Tom Daschle, Nancy Killefer and the ones yet to come from the transition team that missed the bones in Bill Richardson’s closet and Daschle’s and Geithner’s and Killefer’s tax returns.

In public, stand-up political bosses like Barack Obama are, well, stand-up, obediently shouldering the full blame like medicine from Mom. Americans like that and turn very forgiving when they hear it. So, Obama did that so sincerely and stoically on every TV network last night.

The buck stops here and all that, which drew hearty praise today from Robert Gibbs, Obama’s own press secretary. But, in private, those bosses really, really don’t like to have to do that. And someone will pay. If he/she hasn’t already.


Meanwhile, word outta Washington late today that the congressional confirming committees, also embarrassed, are taking a closer look at the documents of some preexisting Obama nominees such as, oh, say, former California representative, Bill Clinton chief of staff and proposed CIA chief Leon Panetta. The Senate Intelligence Committee (no, that’s not being sarcastic) takes up Panetta on Thursday morning.

Apparently, his reports to ethics officials indicate the onetime congressman who hung around Washington anyway is now worth nearly $4 million, which makes hanging around Washington seem a worthy pastime for washed-up pols. Last year Panetta took in about $1.2 million in investments, consulting and speaking fees, plus other income from corporate boards like BP and banks that have now failed or taken bailout money like Wachovia. Let’s all do that.

All this despite being so intimately involved in the Obama campaign.

Panetta also got thousands of dollars from at least one security-related company that he might be dealing with from his secret CIA director’s office in the Langley Batcave that carries the annoyingly Republican Bush name on it.

Panetta’s appointment hit its first bump minutes after the announcement when committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein revealed in one of those too-controlled voices that she had not been informed in advance, a very serious breach of political manners in the Washington world that’s akin to loud burping at the queen’s dinner.

Now our blogging pal Mark Silva in the Swamp has more details on the developing Panetta problems, indicating some senators may have more questions in the morning.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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