As expected, President Obama nominated former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense, and John Brennan to be the next head of the CIA.
And as expected, the reactions from the Beltway were swift and predictable. Some former colleagues of Mr. Hagel pulled out the shivs, including one neocon, Elliott Abrams, who went so far to label Mr. Hagel an anti-Semite on NPR, and we even got to hear some conservatives take up the mantle of gay rights just to bash Mr. Hagel’s opposition to the appointment of an openly gay man, James Hormel, as an ambassador.
John Brennan’s appointment to run the CIA may be smoother because he has been in both the Bush II and Obama administrations. His biggest strike against him is that he has been an unapologetic promoter of the drone program in Afghanistan. He was once considered for the position back in the beginning of the first Obama term, but was dropped because at the time he was considered too controversial, including his support of torture as a means of extracting information from terrorism suspects. I’m not sure why they now think that the intervening four years have made a difference.
But as I noted yesterday, the more interesting thing about both of these appointments isn’t so much the men who are being appointed but the fact that Republicans and conservatives work themselves into conniptions over fights they know they will lose just so they can get in an extra attack on President Obama. It’s like they have some kind of monthly quota to meet.