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