Rice’s goose wasn’t cooked until liberals began attacking her over Keystone and Africa. There are now signs that Hagel is coming under fire from liberals as well.
Daily Kos is taking a shot at Hagel over environmental issues, which have ridiculously become a big part of the Pentagon under Obama Inc. And the New York Times is taking a shot at him over gay rights, which under Obama Inc, is ridiculously also a big part of what the Pentagon does now.
Hagel can and will quickly backpedal on global warming and gay rights. It’s certainly easier for him to do this than it was for Rice to undo everything that she had done wrong in Africa. But the liberal attacks are a symptom of what may be the growing conflict between liberals and Obama.
Approaching the 2012 election, Obama began insincerely throwing out a grab bag of party favors to liberals, including gay rights and an executive amnesty for Mexican illegal aliens, but the left intends to make sure that they extract maximum value from O’s second term and that means repeated confrontations that are meant to push him to the left while challenging the orthodoxy of his nominees.
The choice of Hagel was a strange one to begin with. Bringing in Hagel three years ago would have been a clever way to provide cover for an Iraq withdrawal with a Republican anti-war senator. Bringing him in now is mostly useless. Gay rights has been shoved into the military. Iraq is done. Afghanistan is coming up but not much political cover is needed for a war that most people think should end.
Romney hardly attacked Obama on foreign policy, aside from Israel, and that’s where Hagel has the worst possible record. There really is no benefit to a Hagel nomination without a pro-war and anti-war debate in the country. Indeed Obama these days is pushing his own “clean” wars that Republicans rarely dissent from.
Hagel is anti-military and favors major defense cuts, so bringing him to do the dirty work has some utility, but it’s not clear that anyone cares. Republicans have barely made it an issue. Romney failed to defend the military against Tricare health care cuts, which would have been a smart issue to jump on. Most Americans do oppose major defense cuts, but they had the chance to vote against that in November. And it’s not about to stop Obama. Nor does Obama have any further reason to care what the voters who stayed home or foolishly swung over to him, but are nevertheless pro-military, think.
Liberals naturally want one of their own in there. Why waste a major portfolio on a former Republican with a droopy face whose useful expired in 2007?
The second term is usually the spoils of war term. It’s the circular firing squads term. And the Republican collapse has made liberals even more eager to fight over the spoils. They don’t see any point in sharing them with Chuck Hagel.