So why would the President nominate someone like Chuck Hagel who has had to spend his time during his confirmation hearings to deny that he meant so many of the things that he has had said in his past? He was bumbling and noticeably ignorant. He didn't understand U.S. policy towards Iran which he thinks is governed by an "elected, legitimate" government and bumbled his way through trying to deny his record on Israel.
The problem for Chuck Hagel is that he has a record of saying things and voting ways that demonstrate he is a man with a contemptuous view of America and Israel, yet with a propitiatory attitude towards Iran. He had to deny all these things that he has said even when he was confronted with an interview with al Jazeera in which he agreed that the U.S. has served as the world's bully. I guess that makes him a good partner for our new Secretary of State who once described the U.S. military as "the army of Genghis Khan."
He went so far as to say he doesn't "know much" about military programs and technology. In fact "There are a lot things I don't know about. I, if confirmed, intend to know a lot more than I do." Wow, that's a relief.
But then maybe he's adopted the Hillary Doctrine of "What difference does it make?" because he said that what he believed didn't matter because being Defense secretary is "not a policymaking position." Apparently, he's content with being told what to do by the White House and having aides who will fill in for all the gaps he's displayed in his knowledge and understanding of U.S. policy.
So why would Obama want this guy who has no administrative experience to head one of the largest organizations in the world? The administration had to be aware of some of these incendiary quotes from Hagel's record, yet Obama nominated him anyway. And Democrats will vote for him anyway despite the clear demonstration that he gave yesterday of his unreadiness for heading up the Pentagon. They know how badly he performed yesterday, with one Democrat saying, “It is very clear from the testimony that Sen. Hagel will not be bringing the potato salad to the next Mensa picnic.”
In reading about the hearing and how Hagel displayed his deep levels of incompetence, I couldn't help wondering how Barack Obama would have performed if he had been nominated for a position in the government and had to undergo a day's worth of answering questions about past statements and current policy positions. Would he have done all that much better? I suspect that Obama agrees with many of the objectionable things that Hagel has said about Iran and Israel. Obama wants to exact deep cuts from the Defense budget and he knows that, with Hagel, he'll have a willing puppet to fulfill that goal. After all, Hagel certainly plans on following the White House on all policies since he doesn't consider himself a "policymaker."
Normally, a president wouldn't want someone as Defense secretary who thinks that Iran has a legitimately elected government and who opposes sanctions against them. He wouldn't want someone who has demonstrated his ill will towards our most important ally in the Middle East. Yet Obama picked this guy. Maybe those positions don't bother the President. Maybe they're closer to Obama's own views than the President can say in public.
Hagel may be an incompetent fool, but he's definitely the guy Obama wants. And that should tell us a lot about Obama.