Protect the President's Cabinet
Hagel doesn't deserve Secretary of Defense job
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 23:02
Former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska will likely get confirmed as Secretary of Defense rather easily, despite not getting any support from his former Republican colleagues and friends on the Hill.
Hagel is a Republican, but his views on foreign policy are to the left of even most Democrats. That on its own is not a problem, and most Republicans recognize that they won’t agree on policy with many of Obama’s nominees, but vote for them anyway. Republicans aren’t opposing Hagel because of his political views as many in the media seem to assume. John Kerry was confirmed nearly unanimously, and Republicans don’t agree with him on much at all. They’re opposing Hagel because he’s shown himself to be uniquely unqualified for the job of Defense Secretary.
Hagel openly admitted that he would have to do a lot of on the job training, and proved himself completely unaware of key Obama Administration positions on things like containment toward Iran, and even called Iran a legitimately elected government, apparently forgetting the rigged election of 2009.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney admitted that Hagel did a terrible job at the confirmation hearing, and even sympathetic media sources were critical of his performance. And yet, he’ll get unanimous Democratic support, simply because Obama nominated him. Executive appointees, especially one as important and crucial as Secretary of Defense, shouldn’t be automatically confirmed simply on partisan lines. They should have to prove themselves on their own merits, and on this measure, Hagel surely failed.
What I have to wonder is why Obama nominated Hagel at all. It can’t be for the bipartisanship, as Republicans have no love in their hearts for Hagel.
He endorsed Obama in 2008, and his views on foreign policy are far to the left. Hagel’s perceived anti-Israel views and past negative remarks toward the “Jewish Lobby” were sure to guarantee a difficult and politically costly confirmation fight.
Obama is spending crucial political capital on a fight that isn’t worth winning. When Obama wins this, he gets a bumbling old Republican who no one aside from Iran is excited about and who will need to learn precisely what it is he’s supposed to do as Defense Secretary. How is that worth the fight? Wouldn’t his capital be better spent on the upcoming fights on gun control or immigration?
This reminds me a lot of Obama’s insistence on considering UN Ambassador Susan Rice for Secretary of State last December. Rice was a very controversial pick because of her involvement in the Benghazi debacle, and Republicans made known their intention to fight her nomination until she withdrew her name from consideration. Again, Obama seemed to want a fight when none was necessary.
John Kerry will be a capable Secretary, and he flew through confirmation easily. After he was confirmed, Kerry revealed that he was the administration’s first choice, and this was decided even during the debate over Susan Rice.
Obama continues to seem to pick fights with Republicans simply because he can, and that hasn’t had much of a negative effect on anything yet, but when Obama gets Hagel, his inexperience could actually have some consequences.
Keene is a junior majoring in political science, economics and public policy.