Friday, December 14, 2012

Hagel to the Pentagon, Kerry to Foggy Bottom?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Bloomberg reports:

Former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel has emerged as the leading candidate to become President Barack Obama's next secretary of defense and may be nominated as soon as this month, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Hagel, who served as an enlisted Army infantryman in Vietnam, has passed the vetting process at the White House Counsel's office, said one of the people. The former Nebraska senator has told associates that he is awaiting final word from the president, said the other person. Both requested anonymity to discuss personnel matters. 


Obama invited Hagel, 66, to the White House on Dec. 4 to discuss the position with him, according to an administration official. The president hasn't made a final decision, said another official. Both asked for anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

There's a lot of anonymous sourcing going on here, but I suppose it's a credible report. And I suppose that as far as establishment figures go Hagel wouldn't be a bad choice, particularly if John Kerry ends up getting State now that Susan Rice has pulled out of contention. (And I much prefer Kerry at State than Rice. He's also an establishment figure, of course, but I think he's more of an independent thinker than she is.)

But here's my problem with this: Granting that the spectrum of acceptable candidates is a narrow one, establishment figures who whatever their policy differences won't significantly challenge the dominant course of American militarism and the policing of the American empire, why is it that Republicans can stick to their own while Democrats must reach across the aisle to put Republicans in such key spots?

Remember that Clinton went with Republican William Cohen as SecDef, and now Obama may go with Hagel. Are there no acceptable Democrats? Okay, okay, it's Leon Panetta now, a Democrat, but there's a massive double standard here. Would a Republican president ever appoint a Democrat to such a high position in his (or her) administration? Certainly not.

And whatever Hagel's qualifications, this just pisses me off.

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