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With hopes of fostering their own musical duo a la Frank Sinatra and his pianist Bill Miller, or the great singer-keyboardist pair Mel Tormé and George Shearing, Pentagon bigs are putting out hints that their two top stars might soon form one of Washington's most unusual ensembles, possibly headlining at a Christmas party. "Can you imagine that? The defense secretary playing for the new Joint Chiefs chairman?" says one top Pentagon official. [Read: Pentagon Warns of Smallest Force Since WWII.]
The buzz is that Pentagon boss Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, head of the Joint Chiefs, are thinking about making music together.
"A little-known fact is that Panetta is an accomplished pianist. Dempsey, meanwhile, is a talented singer," says a Pentagon insider. Dempsey sings like Sinatra, and his "New York, New York" has gone viral on YouTube. Panetta has been quieter about his musical chops, but reveals that he trained as a concert pianist, largely because his mom said so.
Both are relatively new at the Pentagon, leading one official to note that "times are rarely easy for the top leaders of the Defense Department, but one thing that comes naturally is the relationship between Secretary Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey." The official adds: "They're straight shooters who see eye-to-eye on the issues, have distinguished records in public service, and enjoy great chemistry. They're also very proud of their roots. Panetta is Italian and Dempsey is Irish." [Read 10 Things You Didn't Know About Condoleezza Rice.]
There's already talk that when they do get together to make music, Panetta and Dempsey might have a little fun with their ethnic heritage on stage. One national security insider suggests that they might combine for a fun concert that would feature songs such as "When Italian Eyes Are Smiling," "O Donato Boy," and even "That's O'More."
Illustration by Ed Wexler