David Frum

12.30.12

Hagel: The Wrong Man for the Job

Steve Clemons of the Atlantic has been collecting opinions for and against the bruited nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

I was one of those he asked. My reply, as it appears on the Atlantic site:

What I find most dismaying about the debate over Senator Hagel is the utter absence from the public discussion of any mention of the single most important issue facing the next secretary of defense: how to preside over what will likely be the steepest military build-down since the 1970s with minimum harm to military capabilities.

There's nothing in the Hagel record to indicate that he brings any relevant experience or skills to this problem. I find it baffling that President Obama would short-list him for the defense position. I'd feel the same way if Chuck Hagel were B'nai Brith's man of the year.

Senator Hagel's supporters offer a case in his favor that would superbly qualify him as Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs in the Nixon administration. But that's not the job we're talking about.