Franklin Roosevelt was famously characterized as having a first class temperament and a second class intellect.
So what’s to make of the new WSJ’s take on the SecDef Leon Panetta and his inability to stay on message and his use of “salty” remarks?
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta voiced frustration with the Iraqi government’s delay in deciding whether to ask the U.S. to keep troops in the country beyond the current Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline, saying, "Dammit, make a decision."
Mr. Panetta’s been on the job less than a month and here comes "Dammit, make a decision"?
There’s more WSJ assessment
On his first overseas trip as defense secretary, Mr. Panetta has emerged as a forceful spokesman for U.S. interests, but has sometimes blurred the line between blunt and blunder.
Blurring the line is one way to put it. Or as the Washington Post reports
…in his first visit to Iraq as Pentagon chief, Panetta appeared to justify the U.S. invasion of the country as part of the war against al-Qaeda, a controversial argument made by the George W. Bush administration but rebutted by President Obama and many Democrats.
Two days earlier, in Kabul, Panetta told reporters — repeatedly — that the United States would keep 70,000 troops in Afghanistan until the end of 2014. That would have come as unwelcome news to the White House, which has pledged to bring far more service members home by then, and his aides scurried afterward to say he misspoke.
OK, once again Mr. Panetta has been in the chair less than a month and he is almost certain to be in the position for the short haul, that is, until the 2012 election. Between now and then, especially regarding domestic defense events (read budget battles, testimony, and public appearances), more scurrying may well occur.