You probably thought Leon Panetta's memoir was an act of disloyalty to the Democratic president he most recently served, and thus to Panetta's own party. Ha! You're wrong! Peggy Noonan wants you to understand that the real target of this book is the Republican Party!
... this book is smugly, grubbily partisan. Republicans aren't bright and never good, though some -- Bob Dole comes up -- are reasonable. Republicans presidents tend to be weak or care only for the rich. He really, really hates Newt Gingrich. His headline on the entire Reagan era: "Poverty spread and deepened during the Reagan years."
He is catty about David Petraeus—his office is "a shrine ... to himself."
That can't possibly be an accurate assessment!
Okay, we've established that Panetta dislikes that towering statesman Newt Gingrich and that champion of the downtrodden Ronald Reagan. But, um, doesn't he also trash Barack Obama? How does that demonstrate Panetta's pro-Democratic partisanship?
You're underestimating the fiendish cleverness and pure evil of Democrats:
Some say he wrote the book to help detach Hillary Clinton's fortunes from those of Mr. Obama. Maybe, but Mr. Panetta is savvy, shrewd and quick to see where things are going. I suspect he’s trying to detach his entire party's fortunes from Mr. Obama. Reading this book and considering its timing, you get the impression that's the real worthy battle on his mind.
Right -- repeatedly saying nasty, dismissive things about a Democratic president, at the Fox News studios and other venues, a month before an election in which that Democratic president's policies will absolutely be on the ballot, and while that Democratic president still has two years left in office, as the head of his party, is Panetta's way of helping the party, and helping the likely next Democratic presidential nominee. Helping to drag Obama down is good for Democrats! Because if enough Democrats distance themselves from Obama, voters totally aren't going to associate Obama with the Democratic Party over the next two years!
The public still backs Hillary Clinton for 2016 despite a considerable level of disillusionment with Obama. But that doesn't mean that attacks on Obama are helping Hillary. His troubles in the polls aren't improving her numbers. Why would even more Obama-bashing help her?
Yes, Hillary has taken a couple of shots at Obama -- but she didn't make taking shots at Obama the focus of her book, or of her book tour, and at no time has she made Obama-bashing her line of the day for days on end. She's threading the needle, I think successfully -- she still seems like continuity to voters who continue to like Obama and change to at least some voters who don't like Obama. On many issues, particular in areas of domestic policy, she and Obama sound very similar.
By contrast, Panetta just comes off as an Obama-hater. To me, that's not very helpful for Democrats. But maybe that's because I'm not as wicked and devious as the hyper-partisan Panetta in Peggy Noonan's head.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog.