Leon Edward Panetta is the very embodiment of a patriot. Born to parents who emigrated from Calabria in southern Italy, he graduated from college and then embarked on a long career in government. Democratic Congressman, Director of OMB, White House Chief of Staff, Director of the CIA, and, finally, Secretary of Defense. In a city of scandals and scoundrels, Panetta eschewed drama, made few enemies, and is highly regarded by Democrats and Republicans alike.
So when Mr. Panetta entered the No Spin Zone Tuesday, he was obviously in a tough spot. He’s a loyal guy and was reluctant to criticize his former boss too harshly, but he also wanted to let Americans know the state of their leadership. What emerged were some very revealing statements. Here is some of what Leon Panetta said about Barack Obama: “This is a president who I think wants to do the right thing for the country, the real question is whether he’s willing to fight to get that done” … “I think this president is smart enough to understand the dangers, the real question is, can he translate that into the kind of action that will help protect this country” … “I think deep down he knows what needs to be done, but what he’s got to do is develop the will to fight, to get into the ring to make it happen.”
Are you catching the theme here? Time and again, Panetta lauded President Obama’s ability to see problems after they occur, but did not give a ringing endorsement to the president’s ability to solve those problems. That is not a good thing, especially considering all the chaos in the world today.
On the same day of the Panetta interview, President Obama was attending one of his many
fundraisers, this time squeezing money from those dastardly one-percenters in New York City. The president actually boasted about the USA’s leadership on … climate change. Ebola is in the air, ISIS is on the march, Putin is on the prowl, Islamism is on the rise, Iran is on the trail of nukes, but our commander-in-chief reassured his base that we are dealing with an issue that Americans consistently rank last on their list of concerns.
President Obama also said this to his wealthy admirers: “When there are challenges around the world, it’s not Moscow they call, it’s not Beijing. They call us.” True, Mr. President, but why does it so often seem that no one is there to pick up the phone?
The left-wing fat cats who pony up big bucks to hobnob with President Obama will never admit the truth, that his passive world view and rejection of American leadership have thrown this planet into chaos. If Washington doesn’t reverse things soon, something catastrophic is going to happen. And it won’t be climate change.
Back to Leon Panetta, who carefully and diplomatically avoided saying anything too damaging about the president. But Charles Krauthammer, a former psychiatrist who knows how to listen intently, put Panetta on his metaphorical couch. “He’s sympathetic to the president,” Charles observed, “but he loves this country and he feels he has to say the truth. The content of what he said was utterly devastating. He was basically saying this president can not lead, he is indecisive, and he is weak.”
Panetta concluded the interview with a veiled but ominous warning about the current state of America. “I’m worried,” he confessed,” about whether or not our children are going to have a chance at a better life.” So are we, Mr. Panetta, so are we. Right now our nation is facing many, many problems, and one of them is a total lack of decisive leadership. Leon Panetta didn’t explicitly say that on Tuesday. He didn’t have to.
Bill O’Reilly is a talk show host on Fox News. His column runs on Friday in the Minden Press-Herald.