Referring to the joke about Gates, Obama had a little fun with the man he has tapped to replace Gates, CIA Director Leon Panetta, a former Congressman and White House Chief of Staff under President Clinton even as he offered serious praise of Panetta’s qualifications.
“Leon, I know that you’ve been looking forward to returning now to Sylvia and your beautiful Monterey, so I thank you for taking on yet another assignment for our country -- and I hope you don’t have a clock,” Obama said.
He added, “The patriotism and extraordinary management skills that have defined Leon’s four decades of service is exactly what we need in our next Secretary of Defense. As a former congressman and White House chief of staff, Leon knows how to lead. … As a CIA director who’s played a decisive role in our fight against violent extremism, he understands that even as we begin the transition in Afghanistan, we must remain unwavering in our fight against al Qaeda.”