Well as previously speculated in the media for the better portion of the last month, President Obama is expected to nominate former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel (of Nebraska) to be his Secretary of Defense.
Hagel, who retired from the Senate in 2008, has taken heat from both the left and the right for various reasons. The left has blasted the nomination of Hagel for both being another Republican appointed to this position (and Hagel, a supporter of both wars launched under President George W. Bush) and for his comments on then-nominee for Ambassador to Luxembourg Jim Hormel as “openly aggressively gay” in 1998. Hagel, for his part, apologized in late-December for his remarks which was fifteen years after the fact.
On the right, however, opposition is mounting to Hagel with Senator Dan Coats, Tom Coburn and John Cornyn already saying they are “no” votes with others including John McCain being noncommittal. This is already shaping up to be a rough nomination proceeding.
But regardless of if he passes or not, it’s hard to see why President Obama would appoint another Republican to this spot. Sure, it might not have the stature as Secretary of Defense, but I can’t see where the Obama administration benefits. Yes, there is the whole “bipartisanship” message around it and some independents still think that a bipartisan Cabinet is a good thing.
Yet the left nor the right want Chuck Hagel and really the only pro-Hagel voice is President Obama which obviously does carry some weight. But you would have to think with folks such as Wesley Clark, Jim Webb or Jack Reed; that the Democrats have a pretty decently sized bench that could excel as Secretary of Defense.