Rich Galen

I subscribe to the general theory that a President - Republican or Democrat should be able to have the people running his Departments, Commissions and Agencies that he wants.

Unless there is some overriding disqualifying reason to reject him or her, the Senate should abide by the terms of Article II, Section 2 that says the President,

"shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Officers of the United States."

The nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense is an excellent case in point.

I may not agree with Hagel on the 3 I's - Iran, Iraq, and Israel - but we don't generally allow Secretaries of Defense to make foreign policy. Nor, for that matter, do Secretaries of State make foreign policy.

The President makes foreign policy and that policy is carried out by State and Defense.

If you don't believe me, ask Hillary Clinton.

Hagel, as a former Republican U.S. Senator from Nebraska and Chairman of the Armed Services Committee might be uniquely qualified to oversee the long-term re-ordering of our military forces in a time of withdrawal from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the short term issues that attend the looming sequester.

A former infantryman in Vietnam with two Purple Hearts, Hagel should have been sailing through the confirmation process as easily as former Navel officer in Vietnam, John Kerry, sailed through his confirmation to be Secretary of State.

Hagel, to my knowledge never tossed his medals over the White House fence as Kerry infamously did.

Among other things, Hagel once said that Members of Congress were "intimidated" by what he called the "Jewish Lobby." Hagel opposed the concept of the surge in Iraq that, no matter what you think about the totality of the adventure, certainly stabilized that country enough for the U.S. to get out.

As a member of the U.S. Senate Hagel voted against unilateral sanctions against Iran, and, according to the Associated Press,

"co-authored [a study] last year that called for an 80 percent cut in U.S. nuclear weapons, and elimination of all nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles."

Even with all that, my thinking, though shaken, remained on the side of giving the President the Cabinet Secretaries he wants.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday Chuck Hagel spent eight hours in a Senate Office building essentially denying everything he has written and/or said since before he campaigned with Barack Obama in 2008.

The Twitterverse was bubbling with hallway comments of Republican and Democratic Senators who were "shocked" at how badly he was performing.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at