Confirming Chuck Hagel

Republican Chuck Hagel, a former two-term senator from Nebraska and President Obama's choice to lead the Pentagon, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013

Republican Chuck Hagel, a former two-term senator from Nebraska and President Obama’s choice to lead the Pentagon, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013

Let’s just get this out of the way:  Former Senator Chuck Hagel is not perfect.  There are things that the Democrats don’t like (he may cut some of their pork, for one) and that the Republicans don’t like (he doesn’t seem to like war for example).  Hey, when both sides have some problems with you, maybe that does make you perfect!

I do think that Hagel will be confirmed at Secretary of Defense, but the vote will likely be close.  I like the nomination for exactly the examples I gave.  Hagel will have to cut the defense budget one way or another, he will have to deal with contractor abuses, and he will be very reluctant to get us into war.  And maybe he will begin a conversation within the administration about rules for drone strikes.  It seems to me that it will be useful to have to combat veterans, Kerry and Hagel, looking at issues of war and peace.

George Zornick has been followed the confirmation hearing for the Nation and has compiled his top ten ridiculous questions that were asked.  Here are some of the best.

He has divisions so first the “Please Admit You Hate America” Division

Senator James Inhofe, R-OK: The question I’d like to ask you, and you can answer for the record if you like, why do you think that the Iranian foreign ministry so strongly supports your nomination to be the secretary of defense?

“Please Pledge, Here and Now, To Start A War” Division

Senator John McCain, R-AZ: Do you think that Syrians should get the weapons they need and perhaps establish a no-fly zone? [A no-fly zone would, almost without question, quickly lead to a full-scale air war with Syria.]

It should be noted that almost everyone seemed to want to know if he would use force if necessary against Iran.

“Please Promise to Keep the Pork Flowing to my State” Division (the winners were all Democrats, two from New England, I picked Jeanne Shaheen for some gender balance.)

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH: Our four public shipyards are the backbone of our naval power. But according to the Navy there’s huge backlog of the modernization and restorations projects at our shipyards.… Will you commit to ensuring that this modernization plan is produced, and will you commit to pressing the Navy, within the fiscal constraints that I appreciate, to fully fund the improvements in the long term?

And finally we have questions that were ridiculous but “We Really Wish Hagel Would Have Answered ‘Yes’ To “Division

Senator Ted Cruz, R-TX: Senator Hagel, do you think it’s appropriate for the chief civilian leader for the US military forces to agree with the statement that both the ‘perception and the reality’ is that the United States is ‘the world’s bully’?”

All I can say is good luck Secretary Hagel.  We wish you well.

Photograph: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

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