Chuck Hagel confirmed as Secretary of Defense

The Senate confirmed Chuck Hagel as our new Secretary of Defense.  Though Hagel, a former Senator from Nebraska,  is a Republican, most Republicans opposed him for his criticism of Israel, his rejection of sanctions against Iran, his opposition to nuclear weapons, and other “dovish positions.” Hagel will join John Kerry, confirmed as the new Secretary of State, as key cabinet members in the second Obama administration.

From Politico.com:

A divided Senate on Tuesday finally confirmed Chuck Hagel as secretary of Defense, handing President Barack Obama a victory on one of his key Cabinet appointments after weeks of partisan rancor.

The former Republican senator from Nebraska, who is expected to be sworn in on Wednesday, will take the reins at the Pentagon as some 66,000 Americans serve in the ongoing war in Afghanistan and just days before automatic, across-the-board spending cuts are set to kick in on Friday.

His confirmation, approved 58-41, required only a simple majority after the Senate voted 71-27 earlier in the day to end debate. Four Republicans joined Democrats in confirming Hagel: Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Richard Shelby of Alabama and Rand Paul of Kentucky. . . .

Republicans fought Hagel’s nomination as few Defense secretary nominees have ever been contested, angry over what they perceived as his betrayal on the Iraq War, past comments about Israel and Iran and what the GOP saw as dovish positions on defense spending and nuclear weapons.

Republicans blasted Hagel in his Jan. 31 confirmation hearing, for which he was widely panned, and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) urged President Barack Obama to nominate someone else.

via Chuck Hagel confirmed for secretary of defense in 58-41 Senate vote – Tim Mak – POLITICO.com.

Should the Republicans have fought this battle, or should the president have the right to get his nominees approved?  Do you think Hagel will do a good job?  What about Kerry?  Is this shaping up as a more liberal administration than last time?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    I have several problems with the confirmation process regarding the advice and consent of the Senate. One, President’s should be allowed to name their own cabinet members particularly those for State and War which are constitutionally the proper sphere of action for the President, and two, this was a much easier thing to do when we didn’t have so blasted many cabinet positions to fill. Three, with the presidential terms of office now officially limited to 2 or 10, there is an upper limit on how long and how much damage a particular cabinet member can do, especially when most of the damage is done at the lower, bureaucratic levels, which the very same Senate has historically done a poor job of reining in. Finally, with the direct election of senators and the bypassing of the sate legislatures, we no longer have the sensibilities of the states themselves reflected as immediately in the confirmation process. In seeking to bring the Senate closer to the people, we’ve effectively elevated them above the people and their local representatives onto their own egoistic plane. So, I’m not sure that the Senate itself should have broad advice and consent powers when that original power was given when senators were in more direct and answerable contact with their respective states, and it was the states through their senators who were giving their consent to the President’s picks.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    The hearings also confirmed the new Joe McCarthy: Ted Cruz. http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/02/ted-cruz-sees-communists/62432/

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    My take is that Hagel’s history of getting it dead wrong should have killed his nomination among Democrats. His history goes well beyond ordinary political differences, IMO.

  • SKPeterson

    How wrong is dead wrong, bike? Most of the senators opposing him have their own dismal track records and I’m not so sure Hagel is all that wrong. In fact, in a foreign policy head-to-head between Hagel and say, Lindsey Graham, I’d put my money on Hagel having the right view.

  • Joe

    SKP @ 1. Your comment is so perfectly spot on that I can nothing of substances to add. Well done, sir.

  • Hanni

    What was dead wrong? Voting for the Iraqi war I guess….5000+ American dead wrong; plus thousands innocent iraquis, many of whom were children…dead wrong.

  • DonS

    I think the Republicans handled this one exactly right. They used the process to expose Hagel’s serious problems and unfitness for the position, and to extract some information the administration has unjustifiably withheld. Then, they let him be confirmed, on the basis that a president should be permitted substantial discretion in selecting his cabinet.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    SK; the point that the Senate is full of people who are dead wrong about most things is well taken. National life is certainly far too important to be entrusted to the politicians we have today!

    I’m thinking about Hagel’s approach to Israel, to the surge in Iraq, and more. I’m not a neoconservative and didn’t want one there, but it would be nice to have someone who would admit that various agencies of the government of Iran ARE terrorists and the like. In other words, to admit that there are people out there who hate us “just because.”

  • Trey

    SK is right on. Obama won the election and he should be able to pick his staff. I dislike his choice, but that’s because I dislike his policies. The confirmation did show that Ted Cruz is a force and a thorn in the liberal side. He is great for our country even if the left wants to make false analogies.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Trey, advice and consent is intended as a limit on the President. No, the President ought NOT get carte blanche for whatever Alinsky, Ayers, Wright, Pfleger, Blagojevich, Daley, Jackson, or Rezko or Khalidi he wants in the Cabinet.


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