I generally agree with about 90% of David Horsey's opinions. Today is an exception. I think he's nailed it in one. His subject is President Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary and what we can expect in confirmation hearings. As Horsey points out, there are some serious objections being voiced on both sides of the aisle and he lays out those objections succinctly.
First -- and this is earning him enmity from both sides of the aisle -- he is not very popular with the pro-Israel lobby. It is not that his views are anti-Israel -- his skepticism about the policies of the current Israeli government is shared by a rather large number of Israelis, after all -- it is that he has not been a bouncing, bubbling cheerleader for Israel the way so many American politicians feel they need to be.
Second, Hagel, in the past, has favored negotiation rather than confrontation with Iran. He has modified this view more recently and now says all options -- including a military option -- should be considered to stop Iran's push for nuclear weapons. That is pretty much a consensus opinion in the foreign policy establishments of both political parties, but there are some saber rattlers on the right who, nevertheless, suspect Hagel is soft on the ayatollahs.
Third, the conservative social views he held as a senator are bugging liberals. His position on abortion leaned toward the wacky Todd Akin wing of his party, which led him to vote against allowing abortions in military hospitals. Now, with that prohibition lifted, some Democrats are wondering if he will try to undermine the new policy. Hagel also said some catty things about a gay gentleman who had been picked to be an American ambassador. Although he has since apologized for his remarks, gay-rights folks wonder if he is the right guy to oversee the new gay-friendly military.
Fourth, Democrats are wondering why in the heck Democratic presidents so often pick Republicans to run the Pentagon. They worry it plays into the stereotype that Democrats are not tough enough to be in charge of running America's wars.
But there is also a fifth point that Horsey makes, and it is that fifth point is where he really seals the deal:
And so, though not much has been said about it, yet, it is likely that the biggest behind-the-scenes resistance to Hagel will come from defense contractors and people within the Pentagon who think bloat is just fine. More than the pro-Israel folks, more than the bomb-Iran crowd, more than gays and abortion activists, it is those who profit from military spending and the senators who are lavished with their campaign donations who will be aiming the biggest guns to shoot down Chuck Hagel. [Emphasis added]
So, why did Obama choose Chuck Hagel? Apparently because he likes Hagel and because they share some common goals. Hagel "mentored" Obama when the president was a brand new senator. Both of them want to cut back on traditional "war waging" whenever there is a dispute, especially since our new arsenal of weaponry (e.g., drones) don't always require too many boots on the ground. Both men want to get the troops out of Afghanistan sooner rather than later. Both really are committed to slicing the bloat out of the Pentagon budget (like the Abrams tanks that even the military doesn't want).
Is that enough to justify the nomination and to justify the president's digging his heels in?
It's hard to tell, but I'll tell you what: those confirmation hearings are going to be high drama.
Look into popcorn futures. Might be a hot investment over the coming months