In Defense of Leon's Down Time

Here's a question to ask yourself: let say your job was based in Washington but your home was on a beautiful walnut farm in the Carmel Valley, and your employer would pay for you to fly back on weekends. Would you spend a lot of time at home?

Me too.

So does Leon Panetta, the U.S. Secretary of Defense with the Carmel farm.

His practice of returning home to California for weekends, however, is being met by grumbling and criticism in Washington -- according to the LA Times -- presumably by people stuck in the oppressive heat and humidity there.

They argue that a defense secretary managing multiple wars and counter-terrorism should be in the office at almost all times.

But Panetta's critics should have some perspective.

Yes, it's important for a defense secretary to be in communication at all times, but that can be done from California.

A defense secretary who is taking time to relax and think at home might be less likely to make big mistakes -- like plotting costly new wars. A little distance on the Washington bubble is probably good for judgment and mental acuity.

One last, provincial thought: California, even after a generation of cutbacks, remains among the national leaders in defense and defense-related industries.

So here's hoping that Panetta, a strong supporter of his home state and its defense industry during his career, spends time here thinking of ways to protect and boost a business that has been an economic engine for the state and its middle class for most of the last century.

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