Defense Secretary

Senate Confirmations: An Opportunity Squandered

President Obama’s foreign policy team is undergoing a makeover, with the nominations of Senator John Kerry as Secretary of State, former Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, and the Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan as CIA Director.  All three gentlemen are expected to be confirmed; Kerry already has, Hagel will likely be confirmed (following an abysmal hearing) later this week, and Brennan faces his confirmation hearing this Thursday, which will essentially be the GOP’s final chance to hold Obama accountable for broken national security policies.

The GOP squandered two opportunities to ask proper questions of Kerry and Hagel.  The Kerry confirmation hearing was a jovial affair for one of the first advocates on intervention in the Libyan civil war in 2011, which, by the way, received no congressional authorization.  When Kerry was questioned about congressional authorization, he essentially bragged about his history of support for unilateral Executive action in Grenada, Panama, Kosovo, Bosnia, and yes, Libya.

Anti-Hagel Movement Symbol of Conservative Hypocrisy

Chuck Hagel

Conservatives are always thumping their chests about America, and how we must defend America, and how we must be American, and how if we ever dare criticize the government, we’re hating America. It’s a common thread that has been going on for at least the past ten years, if not more, and was pretty effective in dominating liberals from the turn of the century until at least 2006, though it wouldn’t be until Obama’s election in 2008 that the narrative actually fell apart.

However, is this really true? Are conservatives really all about America? I have some doubts, doubts that are being fanned by the recent conservative alliance against Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel, himself a conservative Republican. I don’t usually wade into these high-profile topics, leaving them to be picked by others, but there’s one thread here, a counterpoint to the thread of conservatives loving America to their dying breath, that I just have to comment on.

The Cato Institute has been supportive of Chuck Hagel’s nomination, with Chris Preble, their senior foreign policy scholar, noting that “Chuck Hagel Is Not Controversial.” He’s no libertarian dove, but as an enlisted man who was wounded in Vietnam, he is a damn sight better than most people who are nominated for the role. This is not what infuriates the right, however. Instead, it was his remarks concerning Israel, and more importantly, the Great Israeli Lobby, also known as AIPAC:

Rumsfeld a “Defender of the Constitution”? Um, no

On Thursday at CPAC, the American Conservative Union will give Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense in the Bush Administration, the “Defender of the Constitution” award. Over at The New American, Thomas Eddlem is puzzled by this:

Former Bush administration Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who helped inaugurate the Bush-era torture policy and locked up American citizens without trial, will receive a “Defender of the Constitution” Award from the American Conservative Union at the group’s annual CPAC conference. Rumsfeld will be promoting his soon-to-be-released book, Known and Unknown, at the CPAC conference.

Dan Carlin on Obama’s Cabinet, India and Prop. 8

dancarlinDan Carlin, the host of the poular podcasts Common Sense and Hardcore History, gave me his thoughts on various subjects, varying from the attacks in India to Obama’s cabinet appointments.

What do you make of rumors that President-elect Obama will be keeping Robert Gates as Defense Secretary?

Well, as far as I can tell I am the only person in the world who doesn’t like the pick (and it sure looks like, at least for the early part of the Administration that Gates IS the likely pick).


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