John Cole is furious [UPDATE: merely “disgusted“] at Dianne Feinstein and other Democrats critical of the nomination of Leon Panetta as CIA director, saying it proves that the party are “unparalleled masters at fratricide.”
Way to go, team. Feinstein, who had no problem voting yea for Porter Goss, George Tenet, and Michael Hayden, as well as Mike Mukasey, Robert Mueller, and Donald Rumsfeld, has deftly just knee-capped her own party’s nominee for CIA, and is now in the position of doing an about face and looking like a complete and total hack or denying the incoming President his selection, something she never did to any of Bush’s choices.
I couldn’t disagree more. One of the chief issues that frustrated conservatives such as John and myself had during the first six years of the Bush administration was a Republican Congress that saw itself as a rubber stamp for a president of their party.
While their performance in office can certainly be criticized, Goss, Hayden, Rumsfeld, et. al. were slam dunk qualified for their jobs. Each had nearly ideal skill and experience sets, on paper at least, for their positions. Goss was a former CIA officer who’d been chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Hayden is a career intel professional. Rumsfeld had been SECDEF once before.
By contrast, Panetta, while a skilled politico, has no senior level intel experience. Feinstein, as chairman of the Intel committee, owes it to her country, her constituents, and her party to raise questions about what seems, at first blush at least, to be a square peg going into a round hole. It may be — indeed, my sense at the moment is that it will turn out that way — that Panetta will seem like a decent choice upon further reflection, the choice is one that warrants scrutiny.
If the job of Members of Congress is merely to serve as cheerleaders for the president if he’s of their party and critics when he’s not, we should scrap Separation of Powers and replace it with the Responsible Government model of the parliamentary system. It’d be much more efficient. For a variety of reasons, though, the Framers chose to go in a different direction.
Except in the context of elections, Feinstein and Obama are not on the same “team.” Senators represent a different constituency than the president. Moreover, they represent a different institution with different prerogatives and responsibilities. Feinstein is doing her job by conducting oversight to protect against executive bungling and overreach. If more of her counterparts across the aisle had done the same, they might still be in the majority.
Photo credit: ICanHasCheeseburger via Vox.