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Posted by on Jan 7, 2009 in Politics | 1 comment

Feinstein Now Says She Supports Panetta For CIA Chief

What a difference a day — and perhaps a call from President-Elect Barack Obama — makes… Now California Senator Dianne Feinstein says she supports Obama’s reported choice for CIA chief, Leon Panetta.

After saying the bandwagon might have shaky wheels, she has now jumped on the bandwagon..

It was big news when Feinstein had a brittle reaction to the news that Obama wanted Panetta. Now she has nice things to say about him, the AP reports:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the incoming chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday she intends to support President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for CIA chief, Leon Panetta, despite earlier comments that she had reservations about the choice.

Obama chose Panetta, a former White House chief of staff who has no formal background in the intelligence community, without consulting with Feinstein. Obama later apologized to her for the lapse.

Feinstein said in an interview Wednesday that she spoke with Panetta, a fellow Californian, for about 20 minutes on Tuesday evening and came away reassured.

“I had a good discussion with him. I’m confident that he understands. I am supportive,” Feinstein said. “I’ve known him for 20 years. I know him to be a man of credibility and a man of conscience and a man of talent, and I believe he will surround himself with top-notch staff from the intelligence community.”

So one phone conversation with Panetta did all THAT?

The real questions become:

1. Was Feinstein truly upset about his qualifications to head the CIA earlier? If so, why isn’t she continuing to press them now? A phone call from Obama and Panetta took care of that? (If so, I have a foster son who is a telemarketer and he should call her….)

2. Was Feinstein actually reacting much as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich reacted when he almost threw a high-level tantrum because Clinton reportedly didn’t give him the desired seat on the Presidential plane? Was Feinstein’s very-prominently raised eyebrow of disapproval to hearing that Panetta was named really all about the fact that she had not been told about it first and was irked due to that? Was it all about her status not being acknowledged and the rest was to try and justify an angry personal reaction?

Feinstein remains one of the most popular politicians here in California: in fact, you could argue that, with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s declining popularity, she is the most popular and has an excellent shot to take the Governor’s office should she desire to run for it. Her initially -sour response and then a sweet response a day later isn’t a plus to the image of a politician who enjoys widespread support in the Golden State.

Both Panetta’s and Feinstein’s names came up for the Governorship a few years ago. Neither went for it. But both are considered powerhouse Democrats who attract lots of crossover support due to their ability to build consensus.

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