…—and it appears by all accounts that he plans to do so—it will be another example of (as I wrote in a similar context for Obama’s nomination of John Kerry for State) Obama’s “keen sense of humor…for what better way to enrage the majority of conservative[s]“?
In the case of Hagel, the nomination has the added delicious fillip (for Obama, that is) of not just enraging conservatives and all supporters of Israel, but of also providing Obama the cover of saying he’s being bipartisan because Hagel is a Republican.
No doubt he’ll tap Pat Buchanan for Deputy Secretary of Defense. Wouldn’t that be funny, too?
When I wrote the above sentence, it was a joke. But then I wondered what Pat Buchanan’s stand was on Hagel, and so I Googled it. Sure enough, he’s strongly in favor:
The latest endorsement of Hagel should give the aforementioned some pause. It comes from none other than the paleo-conservative, isolationist, and anti-Israel zealot whose anti-Semitism is second to none, Pat Buchanan. In his column, Buchanan echoes all of the now familiar “realist” themes, but unlike the others — who try to distance Hagel from being crudely anti-Israel (indeed, they back him by making the argument his appointment would be better for Israel) — Buchanan wants Hagel precisely because he sees him as one who would stand firm against the Jewish nation.
Buchanan, like Walt and Mearsheimer, believes in the undue power of the insidious Israeli lobby, of which he says: “Its existence is the subject of books and countless articles,” and it always gets bills it supports passed — they are “whistled through” Congress whenever one comes up.
Hagel is opposed, Buchanan writes, because he does not “treat these [AIPAC] sacred texts with sufficient reverence,” and because Hagel “puts U.S. national interests first,” especially when “those interests clash with the policies of the Israeli government.”
One must understand, when reading these words, that Buchanan always believes that whatever Israel supports should be opposed by the United States.
He singles out, just as the Left does, the new settlement construction, which he describes inaccurately as “bisecting the West Bank,” and a move that will “kill any chance for a Palestinian state.” Evidently, Mr. Buchanan does not see any of the self-defeating rejectionist policies of both Fatah and Hamas as having anything to do with the failure of the Palestinians to get a state of their own.
Next, Buchanan argues in favor of talking with Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran, as if such talks have ever led anywhere or would in the future. He uses the analogy of Harry Truman talking to Stalin. What he leaves out, circa Stone and Kuznick, is that Truman learned from recalcitrant Soviet behavior of the futility of such talks, and he proceeded to take a hard line in opposition to the growth of the Soviet empire.
In this case, what Buchanan and company favor is bending to Iran’s will and essentially allowing a nuclear Iran to develop. (After all, as others have argued, the mullahs need a bomb to protect themselves from Israeli aggression!)
Here’s an interesting take on why Obama is so interested in nominating Hagel: because they are alike in putting politics above foreign policy principle. I disagree; I think that the author has merely failed to discern the foreign policy principle under which Obama operates.
[ADDENDUM: DrewM at Ace's thinks that the Hagel nomination is a "fundamentally unserious" one, and explains why. But if you look at his post, which describes Hagel's stance on many foreign policy issues, plus his inexperience at managing anything remotely like Defense, you'll see that (a) Hagel resembles Obama; and (b) Hagel is very much like many of Obama's other appointmentees in not being more expert than Obama on the subject for which he's being nominated. In other words, he will either be in agreement with Obama or someone who can be easily pushed around by Obama.
That is what Obama has sought quite consistently in nominees: he values agreement and/or incompetence in his underlings.
And they're all underlings.]
[ADDENDUM II: A little stroll down memory lane: the unseriousness of the Panetta nomination.]