Monday, January 07, 2013

Hagel Nominated as Secretary of Defense

President Obama nominated former Senator Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense Monday morning.  Obama  did this because Hagel served as a Republican and he thinks that makes him look bi-partisan. Usually a president appoints someone from the other party as an indication that he will move to the center.  We know this will not be the case with Hagel. Hagel is to the left of Republicans and even of President Obama.  He was on the fringe in the Senate. It is simply Obama being Obama.  He is jabbing his finger in the eyes of the Republicans as often as possible in his second term reign.

Here's the thing - though usually Obama relishes laying blame at the feet of Republicans, this time he will be unable to do so.  Many Democrats also oppose the Hagel nomination, including LGBT groups. The media are reporting the nomination as an "in your face" move by Obama.

As Obama is prone to do, he boasts of the "historic" nature of Hagel's nomination - that of the first enlisted man to be Secretary of Defense.

And Mr. Hagel was an enlisted infantry soldier who earned two Purple Hearts in Vietnam. That gives him a “frame of reference,” Obama said, that is “geared towards the guy at the bottom who’s doing the fighting and the dying.”  
While liked on a personal level by most in the Senate during his stint there, most Republicans found many of his positions out of the mainstream of the party in the areas of national security and foreign policy.  He is very well aligned with Barack Obama, however, also a senator with whom he served in the Senate, though briefly.  He voted for the Iraq war but then refused to support the surge, which proved to be a successful turnaround in that losing war. At the time, he bloviated that it was the worst decision since Vietnam. He voted against unilateral sanctions against Iran.  He is quite anti-Israel in his opinion.  Just like Barack Obama.

This move, critics point out, has made it easy for opponents to pan the prospective cabinet picks and far trickier for supporters to defend them.
With the White House announcement, administration officials hope it will become more politically risky for critics to speak out. But the outcry is expected to continue.
Hagel, for his part, will face the toughest opposition from within his own party.
That became clear over the weekend, as Republicans signaled that objections to his policy would likely trump the deference lawmakers traditionally accord one of their own.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina on Sunday called the Hagel nod an “in your face nomination” of a contender who “has long severed his ties with the Republican Party.”
“I don’t know what his management experience is regarding the Pentagon – little, if any – so I think it’s an incredibly controversial choice,” added Senator Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which will preside over the nomination hearing.
While Senate colleagues like Graham acknowledge Hagel’s distinguished service in Vietnam, they cited criticism echoed in a number of quarters.
These include concerns from gay-rights advocates who point to Hagel’s 1998 description of a nominee to be President Clinton’s ambassador to Luxembourg as “aggressively gay,” a comment for which he has since apologized.  
Hagel issued an apology for his remarks made during Ambassador Hormel's hearing recently, when it became clear that he would get the nomination he has been slobbering over for about five years now.  You may also remember that Hagel endorsed and campaigned for Barack Obama in 2008, and against Vietnam veteran and war hero John McCain.

Hagel is an opportunist, which is not uncommon in politics.  As a Republican he has failed to support the party line often and that is troublesome in politics.  As president, Obama is entitled to his picks. While I have no doubt that the man will get the nod in the Senate, when all is said and done, it is a shame that such obvious opportunism on both the part of Hagel and Obama is rewarded.

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