Because I posted photos of my daughter yesterday I think it only fair to give my son equal time. Mark was three months old when the photo of him as a baby was taken and the other photo was taken last month when he was home helping me at Christmas. I'm sure he won't be pleased to see the change that 57 years has made, but he is still my pride and joy.
After the sour grapes that Diane Feinstein had to say about the appointment of Leon Panetta to head the C.I.A I think another viewpoint is important. Following is an editorial by Mark Shields that is more accurate and fair than Diane's words coming from her 'poor little hurt ego'.
Leon Panetta, Public Servant
I first metin 1966. We were both working as legislative assistants in the — Leon for progressive Republican Sen. Tom Kuchel of and I for maverick Democratic Sen. Bill Proxmire of .
Washington really was a more civil place in 1966. Republicans and Democrats could and did like each other. I liked Leon — the son of Italian immigrant parents, an alumnus of and its law school, and an Army veteran — then, and I have liked him ever since. In well over four decades of living and working in the nation's capital, I have never known a better public servant than Leon Panetta.
You don't have to take just my word for it. No one in American political history has polled for the campaigns of more U.S. senators and governors than Democrat Peter D. Hart and the public opinion firm that bears his name. Of his fellow Californian, Hart says, "Leon has always been a missionary, never a mercenary." That might explain why, according to individuals who prefer to remain unnamed but in a position to know, Leon Panetta, happy working with his wife and partner of 46 years, Sylvia, and barely five months short of his 71st birthday, once again answered the call and chose public service over private profit.
That call — to lead the wounded, but vitally important Central Intelligence Agency — came from President-elect Barack Obama, who to his credit has mastered an elusive truth: When the culture of any institution (in this case, the CIA) has to be changed, people who are often most resistant to that change are the very people who are the products of that culture. It does sometimes take an outsider — obviously an outsider with ability, leadership, experience and judgment like Panetta has — to make real change in an organization.
Not surprised by Panetta's willingness to accept the tough challenge of rehabilitating the CIA was his former congressional colleague, retired 10-term House Republican from.
In my Washington years, no member of Congress has inspired more loyalty and devotion from his staff members than , the Missouri Democrat who served from 1976 to 2004 and was an elected leader of his party in the House for 15 years. Dick Gephardt, not given to the use of superlatives, was uncharacteristically effusive in speaking of Panetta: "There is nobody I have ever known for whom I have more respect. Leon is smart and experienced. He understands government. But, most importantly, he has the highest character and integrity of anyone you will ever meet."
But what about the critics' charge that, except for his time in the Army and during his stint as White House chief of staff, Panetta has not had real experience with the gathering of intelligence? To Gephardt, Panetta "will come to the CIA (leadership) with fresh eyes" and "with the exceptional leadership" needed "to ensure civilian control — with necessary transparency — to protect the nation and still enable Congress to meet its obligations of oversight. ... Leon Panetta is the perfect choice."
I agree. Panetta has always had the rare and valuable ability to laugh at himself. He is the sworn enemy of pomp and pretense. He always takes his public assignments seriously, but never himself. He personifies integrity. It says something good about Barack Obama that he, in his brief exposure, recognized the quality of Leon Panetta. It says something good and reassuring about America that we still do produce Americans like Leon Panetta.