Former defense secretary Leon Panetta is confirming “what has been whispered about for years—that Obama shows ‘a frustrating reticence to engage his opponents and rally support for his cause.’” The Daily Beast,
The president often “relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader,” Panetta writes. In reflecting on the president’s habit of bitching privately about obstructionist Republicans without cleverly confronting them, he notes that Obama “avoids the battle, complains, and misses opportunities.”
Panetta is particularly concerned that Obama didn’t fight harder on the sequestration cuts that Panetta believes were harmful to national defense. But the criticism, now hardening into the conventional wisdom among Democrats, also applies to a variety of other issues, where the president had a habit of leading the Democratic troops into battle with a few speeches but not adopting the single piece of advice Oliver Wendell Holmes gave Franklin D. Roosevelt during his first week in office: “Form your battalion and fight.” …
Panetta isn’t the first Obama Cabinet member to serve and tell. Another former defense secretary, Robert Gates, early this year published an often critical account of Obama. But Gates is a Republican. Panetta started out as a Republican (and served in the Nixon administration) but changed parties in 1971 and became a longtime Democratic congressman from California, then budget director and chief of staff to President Clinton and Obama’s CIA director before moving over to the Pentagon. Even before his long career in government ended, he was an éminence grise in American public life.