Three-Buck Chuck

01.10.13 6:28 PM ET

Daniel Foster makes a compelling case that Obama's nomination of Sen. Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense signals a pending attempt to implement major cuts to the Department of Defense. One thing Foster gets wrong? In Nebraska, the Trader Joes' wine costs three bucks.

Hagel’s nomination is interesting because it’s probably not the kind of move Obama could have or would have made in his first term. He retained Republican Bob Gates and nominated Leon Panetta, arguably the Washington Democrat best loved by Washington Republicans, as secretaries of defense. He muzzled Holder and distanced himself from him. He let Jones go. He stashed Warren in a “special assistant” position and surrendered on her nomination to the CFPB without firing a shot. But in the face of lukewarm support in his own party and a determined opposition from outside groups, he fights for Hagel, who will occupy a position more constitutionally and structurally central to the course of events than those others. If this portends that, when and if this nominee is confirmed, Obama will give Hagel a mandate to be Hagel, the president’s second-term defense policy could end up being quite different from that of his first term.