Similarities Between Panetta, Bush as CIA Director

The Comparison
The debate about whether CIA director–nominee Leon Panetta has the intelligence expertise required for the job is reminiscent of the fuss over another choice whose résumé was light on intel: George H.W. Bush, who was appointed by President Ford in 1975 and served for a year before Ford lost his bid for re-election to Jimmy Carter.

Why It Works
Both are ex-congressmen and party loyalists with loads of government experience—just not in spy games. And both inherit a wounded agency. Bush took over after a Senate investigation uncovered years of illegal activity; Panetta would arrive at an agency still reeling from the botched WMD intel on Iraq and the lingering torture scandal.

Why It Doesn ' t
At 52, Bush was (rightly) thought to harbor grander political ambitions whereas Panetta, 70, almost certainly does not. As for their résumés, Bush's global experience came firsthand (U.N. ambassador, envoy to China); Panetta's springs from relevant proximity: his front-row seat as President Clinton's chief of staff.