SHAFAQNA – White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that President Obama appreciates Leon Panetta’s service, but the spokesman also defended the president against some criticism by the former defense secretary and CIA director.
“The president is proud of the record of leadership that he has demonstrated,” Earnest said.
In an interview with USA TODAY, Panetta — who has a book coming out Tuesday — questioned some of Obama’s decisions on Syria and Iraq. Panetta said the president has sometimes been too reticent in pursuing his goals.
Asked about the comments, Earnest said that the president “was proud” to have Panetta as part of his national security team.
He added; “Anybody in any administration who serves in prominent positions like that has to make a decision about how and when and whether to talk about their experience serving the president of the United States — I’ll leave it to others to judge the conclusion that Secretary Panetta has reached about sharing his experience.”
Panetta is the only the latest former Obama Cabinet member to write a book while Obama is still in office. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and ex-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have also penned memoirs that included some criticism of the president.
While praising Obama in the latest book for “his intelligence, his convictions, and his determination to do what was best for the country,” Panetta also writes that the president has “a frustrating reticence to engage his opponents and rally support for his cause.” He writes that Obama often “relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader.”
Earnest said that Obama has exhibited leadership on the international stage “time and time again.”
In recent weeks, he said, Obama has put together global efforts to contain the Ebola virus in West Africa and defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.’
“The leadership that the president has demonstrated over the last several weeks is entirely consistent with the leadership that the president has shown over the last six years,” Earnest said.