President Barack Obama is expected to name Chuck Hagel as his choice for defense secretary as early as Monday, as critics of the former Nebraska senator prepare to go to war to fight his expected nomination.This continues the long tradition of Democratic presidents putting Republicans in the top Pentagon position for no clear reason. Hagel was (at the time) pro-Bush-wars and (more recently) fought against greater inclusion for women and for gay Americans in the military, all of which would seem to disqualify him from the top leadership spot; on the other hand, Republicans hate him too, so his nomination isn't necessarily going to be a slam dunk:
Three Senate Republicans have come out firmly against Hagel's potential nomination, Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Dan Coats (R-IN), and Tom Coburn (R-OK). Cornyn said he can't vote for Hagel due to Hagel's "problem with Israel." Coats said Hagel "has had so much disrespect for the military." Coburn said Hagel "does not have the experience to manage a very large organization like the Pentagon."Does the administration consider the hostility from Republicans to be something that can be overcome, or are they considering it a plus—a demonstration that Hagel must be bipartisan, since pretty much everybody dislikes him? No clue. It seems a very, very odd choice, and it'll be interesting to see what arguments the administration uses to try to sell this nomination to the Senate.
Other GOP senators have expressed reservations about Hagel without committing to a no vote. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who previously praised Hagel as a close and dear friend, suggested recently that Hagel is not a real Republican. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), said on Fox News Sunday, "There would be very little Republican support for his nomination. At the end of the day, there will be very few votes."