Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense? Seriously? First of all, why this obsessive need of Democrats to nominate Republicans for Secretary of Defense? Is there some kind of self loathing going on here or what? Second, looking at Project Votes Smart's ratings of Hagel, the guy's abysmal on a wide range of issues - many of which relate to the military - such as ZERO ratings from NARAL and Planned Parenthood, ZERO from Environment America, and 100% from the far-right-wingnut Family Research Council (labeled a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center). He's also on the board of Chevron and otherwise leaves a lot to be desired on energy issues. He also has a poor record on LGBT issues. Bottom line, though: why on earth are we talking about appointing a Republican, let alone a right-wing one, to one of the top positions in the Cabinet, when there are plenty of other qualified candidates? Here are 10 possibilities, off the top of my head, who would be better picks than Chuck Hagel.
1. Michele Flournoy: Seems to me like this brilliant ("degrees from Harvard and Oxford, a stint at the Kennedy School and the Army War College"), serious ("very serious person, incredibly buttoned down, very careful in all that she does, not at all headstrong."), and experienced (former third-ranking civilian at the Pentagon) would be a great choice. She would also be the first female Secretary of Defense, which would be a great "glass ceiling" barrier to smash through. What am I missing here?
2. Wesley Clark: Retired four-star general, brilliant, tremendous experience, etc. A former Republican turned Democrat. Another one who should certainly be on the short list.
3. Eric Shinseki: He's "a retired United States Army four-star general who is currently serving as the 7th United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs. His final U.S. Army post was as the 34th Chief of Staff of the Army (1999-2003). He is a veteran of combat in Vietnam, where he sustained a foot injury." He also "clashed with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during the planning of the war in Iraq over how many troops the U.S. would need to keep in Iraq for the postwar occupation of that country." Sounds like a winner to me! [Note: I'm told that Shinseki is not quite at the 10-year retirement requirement to be Defense Secretary.]
4. Jack Reed: The Senator from Rhode Island is a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, a West Point graduate, and also "an Army Ranger and a paratrooper...[serving] in the 82nd Airborne Division as an Infantry Platoon leader and in the 325th Infantry Regiment as a Company Commander and later as a Battalion Staff Officer."
5. Ashton Carter: Currently Deputy Defense Secretary, he's brilliant ("doctorate in theoretical physics from the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar") and experienced (e.g., he "managed the multi-billion dollar Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program to support elimination of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons of the former Soviet Union, including the secret removal of 600 kilograms of highly enriched uranium from Kazakhstan in the operation code-named Project Sapphire"). He's also a Democrat, having served in the Clinton and Obama administrations.
6. Carl Levin: Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, "a strong advocate for cost controls regarding military procurements," who has "pushed for less secrecy in government, working to declassify many documents, particularly where claims of ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda are concerned."
7. Jim Webb: Another former Republican turned Democrat, Webb will be available for the job, and certainly has the credentials and experience, including serving as Navy Secretary under Ronald Reagan, to do it. He probably wouldn't be interested, though, which is why I put him low on the list.
8. Bob Kerrey: Former Democratic Senator, ran this cycle for his old seat (and lost), "served in the Vietnam War as a naval officer and SEAL and was awarded the Medal of Honor (MOH) for heroism in combat"
9. Joe Sestak: A "former U.S. Navy three-star Admiral and former American politician. A Democrat, he served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for two terms, from Pennsylvania's 7th congressional district from 2007 to 2011. He was and remains the highest-ranking military official ever elected to the U.S. Congress."
Seems to me that any of these people would be better picks to me than Chuck Hagel. Thoughts? Other possibilities? Or are you happy with Hagel?
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