As expected, President Obama has nominated former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican, to be Secretary of Defense. The media are trumpeting this pick as a bold, in-your-face move from Obama. ABC News:
Hagel is in many ways an ideal pick for Obama, giving nod to bipartisanship while appointing someone with a demonstrated commitment to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and to retooling and economizing the Pentagon bureaucracy for the future.
But the nomination of Hagel to replace outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is also politically charged, expected to trigger a brutal confirmation fight in the Senate, where a bipartisan group of critics has already lined up against the pick.
Now, I'm one of those right-leaning folks who opposed the Iraq War. Hagel supported it but opposed the surge effort and that's a big reason that some conservatives began to distrust him. He's also under fire for referring to U.S. supporters of Israel as "the Jewish lobby" and some anti-gay comments made about the appointment of a homosexual ambassador during the Clinton administration. The media keep referring to Hagel as a bipartisan pick. He's only really bipartisan in the sense that he has opponents on both sides of the aisle.
The joke about Hagel, even in Nebraska, was that he was the Senator from France. But I knew folks who worked for him back in the Senate and I always found it interesting that they really didn't like him as a person.
What I'm worried about, as Daniel Larison puts it over at the American Conservative, is "The Ever-Shrinking Republican Foreign Policy Tent." Is there really not room in that party for folks who oppose widespread intervention in global conflicts?
But what do the Ricochetti think? I'm far more disappointed that the joke John Kerry is nominated for Secretary of State, to be honest.
The other big nominee is counterterrorism advisor John Brennan as the new CIA director, replacing David Petraeus.