Multiple news outlets including CNN, Washington Post, and Politico are reporting that President Obama will nominate former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) to be Secretary of Defense, tomorrow, as is reported by Scott Wilson in Obama to nominate Chuck Hagel for defense secretary, source says.
Hagel would add a well-known Republican to the president’s second-term Cabinet at a time when Obama, after a bitter presidential campaign, is looking to better bridge the partisan divide.
But Hagel’s expected nomination has drawn sharp criticism in recent weeks, particularly from Republicans who have questioned his commitment to Israel’s security. ...
In an appearance Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called Hagel’s selection “an in-your-face nomination.” ...
“A lot of Republican opposition is rooted in the fact that he left his party on Iraq,” the senior administration official said. “And we think it will be very hard for Republicans to stand up and be able to say that they oppose someone who was against a war that most Americans think was a horrible idea.”
Hagel was awarded two Purple Hearts for wounds received in the Vietnam war, and has been a strong advocate for veterans. However, he infuriated Republicans by turning against the Iraq war, and criticizing Republican shibboleth positions on Iran and Israel.
My opinion is that when a President wins reelection and decides he wants certain people to be in his cabinet, unless the confirmation hearing finds some major disqualifications, the Senate ought to confirm. The hearings should not be a process where the losing party tries to micro-manage the President's foreign policy, or uses it for excessive political grandstanding. But, even if they want their symbolic moments to make their points, which they are entitled to do, they ought to give the president his choices, without delay so he can get on with the urgent business of the Executive branch.
Just on general principle, I would have preferred we chose a Democrat to cultivate for future power, and I also note some of Representative Barney Frank's concerns over Hagel's insensitive remarks, in 1998, about the GLBT, however, in this case, these concerns do not seem as if they should disqualify a Presidential choice after apologies have been made about something that happened long ago. I don't excuse or condone, his statements, and find them to be wrong, and in fact almost wrote a post yesterday opposing him, just that this does not seem sufficient to derail a nomination one made, based on what little I know now.
It is also conceivable that having a Republican as Secretary of Defense may be politic at a time where we are going to need a top to bottom review of military spending, with substantial consolidation, closing of no longer need bases, ending of obsolete programs, and other rationalization to avoid having our social programs take that brunt of the substantial reductions in government spending in store for us now that we've established our tax revenue base at 18% of GDP while government expenditure are currently at 23% and the GOP has drawn a hard-line-in-sand that there will be no new revenues.
I do not believe that most citizens, even Democratic and Republican activists, comprehend the magnitude of the consequences implied by a 5% of GDP shortfall of tax revenues relative to government spending at a time the House GOP controls the debt-ceiling and budget initiation. Please note this means if we slash all government spending equally, we will need reductions of all programs, including DOD by 22%, while the GOP and quite of few, if not most Democrats, declare they want no more cuts to defense spending, which has nearly doubled since the Bush administration.
So, the Secretary of Defense is going to play a vital role in either downsizing the miltiary, or changing the nation's mind, and that of the House GOP, about raising additional tax revenues from corporations, and the super wealthy - or more likely a combination of both. Having a Republican may prove to be advantageous in this regard.
But, the bottom line is that if the President want former Senator Chuck Hagel to be his Secretary of Defense, we ought to support him, and the Senate should confirm him quickly.