Congress loved him. A Rhodes Scholar brain with military bearing. A fitness fanatic, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair presented well on Capitol Hill. Peter King, the New York Republican who has fought so hard to toughen homeland defenses, praised Blair's dedication to the job. Pete Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House Intelligence committee, called him a "consumate public servant."
But he was, as Peter King observed, the "odd man out," or as another colleague called him, a good man in the wrong job. There were one too many turf fights. One too many bureaucratic battles lost for lack of White House support or just picked badly and lost.
John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, increasingly made intelligence policy from the White House. CIA Director Leon Panetta sliced him up again and again. Attorney General Eric Holder, close to Obama, muzzled him, too. Even DHS chief Janet Napolitano testified on issues that Blair would normally have weighed in on. He was, as King called him, "not an insider. Not one of them."
Early reports suggest that he may be replaced by James Clapper Jr., ta retired Air Force lieutenant general and the Defense Department's top intelligence officer, or possibly even by Brennan. Rep. King warns that Brennan would mean a tough confirmation battle.