Skip to comments.A Petty Decision by Obama
Posted on 01/09/2013 5:13:45 AM PST by Kaslin
It's official. President Obama has named former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) as his nominee for secretary of defense. Hence, we may be in store for the worst defense secretary nomination fight since George H.W. Bush's failed appointment of Sen. John Tower (R-Texas) more than 20 years ago.
The interesting question is, why? Why waste the political capital? Why pass over more qualified candidates who would sail through confirmation, including Michele Flournoy -- who'd be the first female defense secretary?
The most ridiculous answer is among the mainstream media's favorites: bipartisanship. According to Politico, the choice "appeals to Obama's bipartisan spirit." The Washington Post, in a front-page news story, says that "Hagel's successful nomination would add a well-known Republican to the president's second-term Cabinet at a time when he is looking to better bridge the partisan divide, particularly after a bitter election campaign."
What is particularly bizarre about this talking point is that it often appears in articles that go on to talk about how tough and grueling the nomination battle will be thanks to strong Republican opposition. So which is it? Is it a bridge across the partisan divide? Or is it an "in-your-face" nomination (South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham's words) aimed at eliciting a fight with Republicans?
At least from the perspective of nearly everyone on the right, it's the latter. Whether it's payback for the scuttled non-nomination of Susan Rice to be secretary of state or whether it's simply of a piece with Obama's efforts to divide and conquer the GOP that were on display throughout the "fiscal cliff" negotiations, the consensus in much of conservative Washington is that Obama is making this nomination at least in part out of spite.
Indeed, that's one major reason Hagel has so many unlikely friends these days. Hagel -- never overburdened with too heavy a reputation for insight, knowledge or humility -- is loathed, with ample justification, by many foreign-policy hawks, Israel supporters and neocons (those are overlapping but hardly synonymous groups, by the way). He is arguably the most prominent opponent of sanctions on bad actors in the Middle East. He's heaped scorn on those who'd take a hard line with Iran. His geopolitical acumen is of the sort that fails to shine even in the comment sections on blogs. The Iraq war, for example, was according to Hagel a war for oil.
And Hagel's views on Israel are, to be generous, hard to reconcile with those of the man who successfully campaigned for president just a couple of months ago as a staunch friend of that country. Even if Hagel's gaffe about the perfidious influence of the domestic "Jewish lobby" was accidental, his coolness to Israel is hard to dispute. For instance, when Palestinian suicide bombers were tearing the country apart in 2002, Hagel insisted in an op-ed article that this was the time for Israel to "take steps to show its commitment to peace."
For some, the thinking seems to be that if the Hagel nomination is a thumb in the eye of the neocon crowd, it must be worth it. David Greenberg writes in the New Republic that many "liberals are bending over backward to praise Hagel, in effect saying they would prefer an archconservative male mediocrity to a liberal female rising star." Why? Because punishing Hagel's enemies is worth a potentially lousy defense secretary.
This spirit results in some really batty arguments for Hagel's confirmation. For instance, New York Times columnist Roger Cohen writes that the "chief" reason Hagel should be confirmed is that doing so "will provoke a serious debate on what constitutes real friendship toward Israel." Even if you agree with Cohen's barmy views of geopolitical "friendship," Hagel's got real problems if this is the best case for his nomination.
The Defense Department faces imminent cuts, Chinese and Russian nationalism are ascendant, the Middle East is becoming even more destabilized and theocratic, and we're still at war in Afghanistan, but Hagel's chief qualification is that he'll be a great conversation starter? Wow.
The coming nomination fight will undoubtedly focus on the strength of the case against Hagel. But the real indictment of Obama's pick is the weakness of the case for Hagel -- and the pettiness of the pick in the first place.
Just a guess...
Because he can't "waste" political capital. His supporters, especially in the media, will support anything he does. Anything. And his detractors won't. He knows that so he'll whatever he wants at any given time. There's no downside.
Obama’s first choice was the Blind Sheik, who
refused to change parties for Obama.
Hagel is an antisemite. That’s the be all and end all for Obama.
Agreed. Obama is certainly in a privileged position, with infinite political capital.
Well, petty tyrants make petty decisions.
The Republicans, peering out from their hiding place in the tall grass, will overwhelmingly vote to confirm. That’s my prediction...
I believe your post is really close.
Of course there is nothing Bi-Partisan about this pick.
There is nothing Republican about Chuck Hagel exceptthe party he chose to state that he belonged to.
It would have been hard for Obama to pick someone that is on a higher RINO scale than Chuck Hagel.
If he had picked Charles Manson the media would endorse it.
Watch for what he does while the stoopid Republicans are grandstanding the nomination.
You got the "t" and the "s" backwards in "this".
hitlery was the worst SOS — dumb as the day is long.
This guy is just equally bad.
It could have been worse..he could have nominated the lady mentioned in the piece as the first female secretary to show how inclusive his administration is...
Personally I’ll take a liberal Republican who was a grunt and decorated combat veteran over just about anyone else O would have nominated...
you are far to kind towards this ass clown.
which is having less and less of a shelf life these days when it comes to this cretin.
Next Obama will float Krauhammer for ‘Sectary DaFence’...that will get the McCainiacs really hot and bothered.
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