Thursday, February 5, 2009

Leon Panetta, Maximum Bureaucrat

I'm watching the Panetta CIA confirmation hearings. Instead of qustioning, Democratic representatives have taken their turns at the mike to provide extensive and long-winded character references. Barabara Mikulski has just relinquished the floor and Leon Panetta is grinning on cue.

"That's an excellent answer," says Mikulski to a slogan uttered by the former Clinton chief of staff.

The boredom is taking its toll as Mikulski launches into a phrase heard ad nauseum from the speeches of other Democrats: "Speaking Truth to Power."

Democrats always take on the look of puff adders whenver the phrase is uttered, and Mikulski uses it several times, as does Ron Wyden. Meanwhile, Panett'a every answer is thoughtful, reasoned, measured, bureacratic and empty. Panetta searches his mind for the right thing, the right phrase, the right tone. His every answer is squared and boxed. There are no loose ends, not a hair out of place, and nothing original. Panetta avoids excitable thoughts, and issues his familiar catch-phrases in press-ready form. He edits himself as he speaks. He blinks his eyes, often. There is no way of telling what the man is thinking. He is a seamless, robotic, hypnotic bureaucratic manager. His bureaucratic thought process is convertible to usage in a university, a bank, a law firm, a meat-packing plant.

"We will work as a team," Panetta says.

Go team. Say yes. Be quiet. Smile.

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