Chuck Hagel Is Shocking Evidence That Obama Disagrees With Republicans

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Jonah Goldberg wonders aloud why President Obama has nominated Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense:

Is it a bridge across the partisan divide? Or is it an “in-your-face” nomination (South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s words) aimed at eliciting a fight with Republicans?

At least from the perspective of nearly everyone on the right, it’s the latter. Whether it’s payback for the scuttled non-nomination of Susan Rice to be secretary of State or whether it’s simply of a piece with Obama’s efforts to divide and conquer the GOP that were on display throughout the “fiscal cliff” negotiations, the consensus in much of conservative Washington is that Obama is making this nomination at least in part out of spite.

Fascinating! Apparently presidents are now required to nominate only people whom the minority party approves of wholeheartedly. If he doesn’t, the reason just has to be pure spite.

Well, politics is everywhere, and I’m sure Obama had some political motivations for his choice. For example, maybe he wanted to remind the country that, once upon a time, the Republican Party included traditional conservatives like Hagel, not just tea party lunatics. But guess what? Hagel is a longtime ally and advisor. He’s on Obama’s side on most important defense issues. I know how ridiculous this must sound, but it’s just barely possible that Obama nominated Hagel because he likes the guy, respects his views, and thinks he’ll do a good job of running the Pentagon and implementing Obama’s policy agenda. Plus, he probably figures that presidents ought to get to choose their own cabinet.

If Republicans want to go to the mattresses to fight Hagel, that’s their choice. “Divide and conquer” only works in this case if the GOP continues its hysterical insistence that Hagel is some kind of raging anti-Semite who will destroy America’s ability to defend itself. If that’s the road they choose, they have no one but themselves to blame if they end up being split down the middle.

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

We have about a $200,000 funding gap and less than a week to go in our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, this week so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

We have about a $200,000 funding gap and less than a week to go in our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, this week so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate