Leon Panetta Shares Political Trade Secrets in Fresno

Ultimate Blog Challenge Day 19 #blogboost

Do you have Towne Hall Lectures in your area? Fresno hosts six programs each year at the Saroyan Theater downtown, so a friend and I decided to buy season tickets. Leon Panetta spoke today, the season’s first presenter.

Fresno Soroyan Theater
Fresno Saroyan Theater

Our moods were cheery as we drove up to Fresno in perfect 75-degree weather, light traffic, and good company. My two friends had never met but quickly learned that their daughters were the two newest employee hires at TCOE, where Connie and I worked for many years.

After hiking up to the balcony, we realized that we had arrived early enough to get third-row seats. So we traipsed down and slid into the best seats in the auditorium.

The Saroyan Theater filled up quickly. Connie and Monica posed for me.
The Saroyan Theater filled up quickly. Connie and Monica posed for me.

What a privilege to listen to the former director of the CIA, and Director of Defense for President Obama. Son of an Italian immigrant raised in a walnut grove in Carmel, they used to shake their trees by hand, Panetta and his brother gathering the nuts as they fell. His dad told him that he was well prepared to work in Washington.

“You’ve been dodging nuts all your life.”

Leon Panetta "I've been dodging nuts all my life."
Leon Panetta “I’ve been dodging nuts all my life.”

Best Story

A renown physicist presented all over the country. His chauffeur, who traveled with him, complained that he always gave the same speech.

“I’ve heard that speech so many times, I could recite it word for word.”

So, when they went to Fresno. The scientist said, “OK, they don’t know me here in Fresno, you give my talk tonight.”

They exchanged clothes and the chauffeur made the presentation. It went over perfectly. After the speech, someone from the audience asked a detailed question involving formulas.

The chauffeur responded, “That’s the stupidest question I’ve ever heard. In fact just to prove how stupid it is, I’m going to let my chauffeur answer it.”

Up front and personal with Leon Panetta
Up front and personal with Leon Panetta

Most Vulnerable statement

“I’ve worked with nine presidents. No, I don’t want to do it again. I don’t want to kiss that much…” (paraphrased)

Overall Theme

The government is there to lead, to govern. Leaders have to take risks. The best thing leaders can do when they have a problem is to make the right decision. The second best thing they can do is make the wrong decision. The worst thing they can do is nothing.

Leon Panetta
Leon Panetta

Salient points

  • There is some low-lying fruit that the president (this one and the next) could pluck and actually accomplish something.
    • Entitlements – Will it involve compromise? Yes! Will it be popular with everyone? No! Does it have to be done? Yes!
    • Immigration reform
    • Approve the Supreme Court Justice appointment now. It’s the law. It’s their job.
  • In a Democracy, you have nice guys, and jerks, the lazy and the ambitious, crooks and honest members of the government. That’s life. Deal with it. You (leaders) have a job. Get it done.
Quite a crowd
Quite a crowd

There was time for questions after his speech. He actually answered the questions! That was refreshing. Monica, Connie and I had a great time discussing what we heard. Then we went home and waited for the last presidential debate.

Thanks, Monica, for suggesting that we do this.

What interesting events have you attended recently?

Author: Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, and I'm working on retirement. heheh Read more about me here. http://wp.me/P7tP3I-2

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