Monday, President Obama will announce two nominees to start fleshing out his second-term cabinet. At 1 p.m. EST, the president will nominate former Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense and John Brennan as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. While the director of the CIA isn’t a cabinet position, it still requires Senate confirmation.
Even though Hagel is a Republican, his nomination has already drawn fire from the Right. Hagel originally supported the U.S.-led invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq only to later break with his party and oppose the Iraq troop surge.
In 2008 he made a statement calling out “the Jewish Lobby” which prompted criticism that he was anti-semitic. Critics also point to Hagel’s record as a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he opposed unilateral sanctions against Iran. Hagel supporters, however, reiterate that the former senator supported sanctions as part of multi-national efforts and voted for nearly $40 billion in military aid for Israel.
And 15 years ago, Hagel opposed an Ambassador nominee because he was openly gay. Recently, Hagel has apologized for those remarks, but as NBC’s First Read pointed out Monday, the problem isn’t his stance on these issues but rather that he is a “man without a party."
President Obama’s support for Hagel shows that he is prepared to fight a nomination battle. As Steve Kornacki pointed out in his Salon.com article on Monday: “The question is how serious the fight will be—a half-hearted effort by a handful of John McCain/Lindsey Graham-types or a full-fledged partisan war with the potential to peel off a few Democrats and jeopardize the nomination."
If confirmed, Hagel would be the first Pentagon chief ever who saw combat as an enlisted soldier. He earned two purple hearts in Vietnam, has shrapnel in his chest, and is a vocal advocate for fellow Veterans.
Lt. Col Anthony Shaffer and Jon Soltz, both U.S. veterans themselves, join Monday’s show to discuss the nomination, as both believe Hagel is a good choice for Secretary of Defense. Shaffer says we need an effective defense, not an expensive defensive.
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