Politics is the roughest of them all

Yes sir. Politics and to an extent public service can be the roughest of the rough jobs on Earth.

You bring someone on board to carry out your policies, they do your bidding and then they return to private life, write a book and then blast those policies to smithereens.

Leon Panetta is the latest former public official to turn on the man who hired him. His criticism of President Obama is drawing praise from Republicans (no surprise, there) and condemnation from Democrats (again, no surprise).


It’s the norm, I suppose.

Panetta, whose dossier is sparkling — former leading member of Congress from California, former White House chief of staff during the Clinton administration, former CIA director, former defense secretary — now says Obama disregarded his advice about leaving a “residual force” of personnel in Iraq. He also says the president misunderstood the threat posed by the Islamic State. He says the president is reluctant to engage his critics.

Yes, he’s written a book.

Is he the first former presidential insider to trash his boss? Hardly. Hillary Clinton has done so. Ditto for Robert Gates. They both are former Obama hands who’ve said unkind thing about him.

George W. Bush got the treatment from former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill; Bill Clinton got ripped by one-time political aide George Stephanopoulos.

Frankly, none of this serves any president well.

Still, there’s something quite unsettling about the latest trashing of Obama by his former defense chiefs and his one-time secretary of state. They come at a time of intense international crisis.

Panetta’s critique is particularly unnerving as the president looks for answers to dealing with ISIL, fighting a deadly disease in West Africa, trying to find peace between Israel and the Palestinians, seeking a solution to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine … and God knows what else is going on around the world.

Why not make these people pledge — in writing — to keep their thoughts to themselves until after the president leaves office? Is that too much to ask?

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