Comparing Calvinball — a game wherein the permanent rule is that you may not play the Calvinball the same way twice and the primary rule is that the rules are subject to be changed, amended, or deleted by any player(s) involved — to contemporary politics has become something of a tradition at Balloon Juice.
Calvinball season is in full swing: there has been much gnashing of teeth over the fact that Leon Panetta is not a career intelligence person, but the career intel rule seems to have been invented over the past few days. Matt Y notes:
this idea that the CIA Director needs to be a career intelligence professional seems to have been pulled out of thin air. Porter Goss wasn’t a career intel guy. Neither was George Tenet. Neither was John Deutsch. Neither was James Woolsey. Nor William Webster. Nor George H.W. Bush.
And while we’re at it, shame on Ben Smith who writes of DiFi’s opposition to Panetta:
That seems to reflect the view inside the CIA, and suggests a tough confirmation hearing.
I like Ben Smith, but I seriously doubt he has many sources inside the CIA. David Ignatius, who does (even if he’s a jackass in many ways), writes that the pick is viewed positively at Langley (as the kids like to say).
Another new rule: people who have been on television should not serve in the cabinet. This is courtesy of Jay Newton-Small.
Gupta is an accomplished surgeon, Emory University medical professor and award-winning journalist, who has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the tsunami in Sri Lanka. He’s also not totally unpolitical, having served as a White House fellow in 1997 and as an advisor to Hillary Clinton.
But picking a television personality — and here I mean no disrespect, the guy is clearly a multi-tasking genius — leaves the door open for a just a tiny bit of mockery. Judge Judy for the Supreme Court? Rachel Ray for White House chef? Flava Flav to head the the DEA! And, hey, Law & Order was one of Fred Thompson’s top credentials in his presidential run.
That’s right, picking a professor of neurosurgery as Surgeon General is like picking a guy who wears a Viking helmet around in public as head of the DEA. And, for Christ’s sake, when it comes to the White House chef, is there any well-known chef who doesn’t appear regularly on tv at this point? I’ve seen Thomas Keller and Eric Ripert on morning shows: does that mean they wouldn’t be qualified to be White House chefs?
Update: A doctor friend of mine just told me she considers this pick a slap in the face to the medical community.
Update update: Whenever I use the phrase “slap in the face”, I am snarking.