Blessed Are the Gatekeepers
by Charles Lemos, Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 06:32:52 PM EST
Blessed are the gatekeepers, for theirs is the power to getting things done.
If President-elect Obama thought that changing the way Washington works was going to be a breeze, he got his first lesson in comeuppance with his selection of Leon Panetta to head the Central Intelligence Agency. His mistake wasn't the choice per se but rather not checking with the gatekeepers, the Washington power brokers pertinent to this decision. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the incoming chairperson of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she was surprised by the pick and complained that she wasn't consulted. That's one gatekeeper with ruffled feathers. Another gatekeeper not reckoned with, and therefore not terribly amused, was the outgoing chairperson Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). Through an aide, the long-serving member of the Intelligence Committee let it be known that while he "has tremendous respect for Leon Panetta" the aide said that Senator Rockefeller "believes the CIA director should go to someone who has significant intelligence experience and someone from outside the political world of Washington DC."
Had these gatekeepers been consulted prior to announcing the selection, I suspect their tone would have been more conciliatory and supportive. Certainly, we would have fewer ruffled feathers.
Even Senator 'for two more weeks' Joe Biden conceded it was a "mistake" in not consulting the Senate's gatekeepers before tapping Leon Panetta to head the CIA.
"I'm still a Senate man and I always think this way," he told reporters in the Capitol. "I think it's always good to talk to the requisite members of Congress."
Yup. It's always good to talk to those blessed gatekeepers. In doing so, President Obama will likely get his way more often than not but ruffle their features by pulling surprises seems like a recipe for not getting things accomplished. Blessed are the gatekeepers, for in their hands is the power of the gavel. Some aspects of Washington, it seems, will never change.