And now we have the nomination of Chuck Hagel which is puzzling people because of Hagel's anti-Israel statements and his positions opposing even sanctions on Iran as well as his stated desires to pare down spending in the Pentagon. Some are arguing that Hagel is to the left of Obama. That is why Republicans are so strongly protesting this nomination. If anyone was fooled into thinking that Obama was making a bipartisan move by nominating a nominal Republican, just note how it is the Republicans who are most determinedly objecting to Hagel.
So we're left to conclude that the reason that Obama is nominating someone with Hagel's stated positions is because those are truly Obama's positions and the approach that Obama wants to follow in his second term.
The puzzle of the Chuck Hagel nomination for defense secretary is that you normally choose someone of the other party for your Cabinet to indicate a move to the center, but, as The Post’s editorial board pointed out, Hagel’s foreign policy views are to the left of Barack Obama’s, let alone the GOP’s. Indeed, they are at the fringe of the entire Senate.Obama wants to cut defense spending in ways that Leon Panetta has termed "devastating." Obama, despite his claims during the election campaign, has never been a good friend to Israel so Hagel's criticism of Israel and the "Jewish lobby" doesn't appall the President. And Obama has always stated that he believes in diplomacy to rein in Iran. Obama has clearly sent a message to Iran that we are going to downsize our military, can't wait to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. And with the Hagel nomination, he's telling them not to worry about what we will do if they continue their efforts to produce nuclear weapons.
So what’s going on? Message-sending. Obama won reelection. He no longer has to trim, to appear more moderate than his true instincts. He has the “flexibility” to be authentically Obama.
Hence the Hagel choice: Under the guise of centrist bipartisanship, it allows the president to leave the constrained first-term Obama behind and follow his natural Hagel-like foreign policy inclinations.
The election is over. Chuck Hagel represents Obama's new "flexible" foreign policy. And don't expect the "real" Obama we're now seeing on foreign policy to be the only "real" Obama we'll be seeing. His nomination of Jack Lew for the Treasury and his intransigence on cutting spending are all indications that, now the election is out of the way, we're going to be seeing the highly partisan, arrogant, tax-raising big-spender that conservatives always told us was the "real" Obama.