Panetta Book: ‘Obnoxious and Lacks Stature’Posted: October 9, 2014
“‘Worthy Fights’ is highly self-regarding even for a Washington book.”
Peggy Noonan writes: There’s the sense of an absence where the president should be.
Decisions are made—by someone, or some agency—on matters of great consequence, Ebola, for instance. The virus has swept three nations of West Africa; a Liberian visitor has just died in Dallas. The Centers for Disease Control says it is tracking more than 50 people with whom he had contact.
“Publicly Mr. Panetta has always been at great pains to show the smiling, affable face of one who is above partisanship. But this book is smugly, grubbily partisan.”
The commonsense thing—not brain science, just common sense—would be for the government to say: “As of today we will stop citizens of the affected nations from entering the U.S. We will ban appropriate flights, and as time passes we’ll see where we are. We can readjust as circumstances change. But for now, easy does it—slow things down.”
[Check out Panetta’s “Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace” at Amazon.com]
Instead the government chooses to let the flow of individuals from infected countries continue. They will be screened at five U.S. airports, where their temperatures will be taken and they will be asked if they have been around anyone with Ebola.
A lot of them, knowingly or unknowingly, have been around Ebola. People who are sick do not in the early stages have elevated temperatures. People who are desperate to leave a plague state will, understandably if wrongly, lie on questionnaires.
“He is telling partisan Democrats on the ground that he’s really one of them, he hates those Republicans too, so you can trust him when he tells you Mr. Obama’s presidency is not a success.”
U.S. health-care workers at airports will not early on be organized, and will not always show good judgment. TSA workers sometimes let through guns and knives. These workers will be looking for microbes, which, as they say, are harder to see. A baby teething can run a fever; so will a baby with the virus. A nurse or doctor with long experience can tell the difference. Will the airport workers?
None of this plan makes sense. It’s busy work meant to foster confidence. But it encourages the feeling that no one’s in charge, the federal government isn’t working, everyone’s dissembling, and the No. 1 priority is to keep the public calm as opposed to safe.
And now this week’s story on the big absence.
Leon Panetta ’s “Worthy Fights” pretends to offer answers to a problem of which the book is actually an example—the mindless (as opposed to thoughtful and constructive) partisanship that has seized Washington. This memoir of his years as a successful political and bureaucratic player is obnoxious and lacks stature. Reading a comparable book, Robert Gates ’s recent, stinging memoir, you could see through the lines a broken heart. In Mr. Panetta’s you see mostly spleen… (read more)