The General Confusion At The CIA & Two Reasons Mitt Romney Ought To Be The Next CIA Director

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“I also solemnly swear to say anything you want to hear each time we meet, except, ‘Yes, Mr. President, here are my tax returns for the past ten years.'”

Today, David Petraeus left the directorship of the CIA one step ahead of the divorce lawyers. As of today’s retreat, those among the more nearly sane GOP strategists may have held out hope that the former general might have been the kind of palatable Presidential candidate the country might buy in 2016. That speculation is likely dead.

In any event, the immediate problem remains: filling the CIA Director’s chair. Foremost, we need to keep in mind the vital national security considerations that were implicated in Petraeus’s resignation. His extra-marital affair, in most any other federal agency leadership position, would not call for an immediate resignation, if any at all. But the possibility of an affair compromising the premier intelligence official via blackmail or other means is of true national concern. Some examples, courtesy of Amy Davidson: 

In addition to the blackmail issue, one imagines that [Petraeus] will at least be asked about where he might have been with classified material. . . Did he give answers in the course of security-clearance checks that turned out to be lies? . . . For anyone of his rank, one would ask if the affair involved a subordinate—and what was the timing, and did it extend to his tenure as an Army general; did it involve his command? 1

Given the security issues that serve to confine the CIA Director’s hanky panky decision-making, our next Director must be a man or woman comfortable with equal parts secrecy and self-denial.

In this context we offer They Will Say ANYTHING!’s recommendation for the next Director of the CIA: Mitt Romney. An unusual – perhaps, you may believe, deranged – recommendation, to be sure. Nonetheless, hear us out. We do have numerous persuasive reasons, two reasons, to be exact:

1. Secrecy. Mitt Romney has just completed the most clandestine campaign for the presidency in our history. He made Richard Nixon look like a gadfly. This unrivaled skill, carried over to the CIA directorship, would create an almost literal firewall against any lapses in his protection of national security secrets.

During the just concluded presidential campaign, Mr. Romney was able to conceal from the voting public and his own campaign staff every meaningful policy position on every meaningful issue. From his tax returns to his $100 million IRA account; from the Caymans to Switzerland; from one Bain scheme to the next, Mitt Romney was not merely the soul of discretion, he was its definition.

Some other well-known examples include:

the mathematics underlying his tax policy; his position on abortion; his true attitude toward the auto industry rescue; the practical methods he would have employed to reduce the deficit while simultaneously cutting taxes and increasing defense spending; and whether he hated Obamacare and loved Romneycare, or hated both, or took credit for both, or never heard of both .

“There stands Mittens like a stone wall . . .”

On these and almost every substantive and non-substantive inquiries, Mitt Romney stood against revelation like a stone wall reminiscent of Stonewall Jackson at Bull Run in 1861; reporters’ questions simply bounced off it or broke against it.

So, on the secrecy scale, the evidence is strong as granite that a CIA Director Romney suddenly supercharged with testosterone would reveal state secrets to neither courtesan nor to harlot. In fact, a Director Romney would be equally unlikely to reveal CIA information to the National Security Council, congressional intelligence committees, or President Obama himself. And Joe Biden? Hah! During Mitt’s watch, we could all sleep soundlysecure in knowing that no one knew anything about anything whatsoever inside or outside the CIA.

Self-Denial.  As strong as Mr. Romney is on concealment of his positions to others, he is equally gifted in self-denial. What better scale to measure his presidential run? Here, a President seemingly awash among the flotsam and jetsam of the Lesser Depression; there, a House of Representatives successfully blocking him from nearly every avenue to success of achievement; and over there, in the hinterlands, red state finagling with the right to vote itself . . . How could any Republican contender fail to defeat such a beleaguered President? As we know, Mitt could.

Many explanations have followed since last Tuesday evening. The GOP circular firing squad blamed Karl Rove, Hurricane Sandy, and even what they perceived as the fecklessness of the American voting public. Sheldon Adelson demanded that one of his newspapers feature the headline, “Socialism Wins!”  

Mitt himself was blamed too, of course, but we here at TWSA! believe, for the wrong reasons. Yes, indeed, he was a singularly unattractive, uninspiring, and un-nearly-everything candidate. Nonetheless, he was easily the most presentable of the clown college faculty denied tenure during the GOP primary contests.

Our belief here at TWSA! views self-denial as the culprit in his election loss. Pulling defeat from the open jaws of victory in this election when the President was in deep trouble was, by and large, the fullest extension of a rather mystical self-denying personality unseen since Richard Nixon, the maestro. Only self-denial can explain Mr. Romney’s apparent insistence on and reliance on concealing his policy positions. In fact, he went well beyond simple concealment to an even more confusing tactic that seemed to rely upon continually changing his positions, sometimes within hours of each preceding point of view.

“You will meet me at the Arlington COSTCO for lunch every day, won’t you, Mr. Bigshot CIA Director?

Mitt’s self-denial is, of course, also self-defeating, and led to the usual result for this personality type, an electoral drubbing. However, self-denial as a CIA Director might very well provide Mr. Romney the strength to stand up to temptation of the extra-marital kind. Where Petreaus, good man though he was, could not, Romney can. And let’s not forget, Ann Romney will be watching . . . boy, will she ever. Have you met her?

All in all, we cannot think of a better candidate for CIA Director than Mitt Romney. He has a record for secretiveness and a to self-immolation that led to a defeat of a mythical size. When we realize that it was his own secrecy, driven by a Nixonian sense of self-denial, that defeated him and his entire political party, where else can we find a personage so steeped in public failure? Who better to ascend to the leadership position of the agency so well accustomed to abject failure.

Finally, a place where Mitt Romney will be liked, loved even. 

  1. Questions About the Petraeus Resignation, New Yorker, Amy Davidson, Nov. 9, 2012.

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Michael Matheron

From Presidents Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush, I was a senior legislative research and policy staff of the nonpartisan Library of Congress Congressional Research Service (CRS). I'm partisan here, an "aggressive progressive." I'm a contributor to The Fold and Nation of Change. Welcome to They Will Say ANYTHING! Come back often! . . . . . Michael Matheron, contact me at

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