Former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel is the perfect choice to serve as President Obama’s defense secretary, for the same reason John Kerry will be his perfect secretary of state and Eric Holder has been the ideal attorney general in this administration. They all share something in common — events have elevated them to a level of incompetence.
From the day of Hagel’s nomination to the moment the gavel announced the start of his confirmation hearings, reams have been written about his questionable statements and opinions on Israel, Iran, Syria, America’s role in the world and its prosecution of the Iraq War. Given all those questions, he should have been the most supremely prepared nominee in the world — but he wasn’t.
The hearings were almost painful to watch. Hagel’s testimony was often muddled, contradictory and lacked any understanding of foreign policy, world events or even the demands of the job he is seeking.
Hagel’s demeanor was sometimes marked by a deer-in-the-headlights look and it seemed as though he was almost surprised at the questions. One exchange, with Arizona’s U.S. Sen. John McCain, prompted this tweet from Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume:
“It’s probably dawning on Sens. who didn’t serve w/Hagel that he’s just not very bright. Exchange w/McCain unresponsive & bumbling.”
Hume’s thoughts were almost universally shared.
Hagel “will embolden our enemies, endanger our allies,” U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla. said. He judged Hagel “the wrong person to lead the Pentagon at this perilous and consequential time.”
Although neither the attorney general nor the future secretary of state appear as incapable and embarrassing as Hagel, they have their own displays of incompetence. Holder’s is rooted in lack of courage, Kerry’s in lack of allegiance.
Holder matter-of-factly referred to America as a “nation of cowards.” Several years later, he played the coward himself when he hid behind the president’s phony claim of “executive privilege” after U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa turned up the heat on Operation Fast and Furious.
The moment Kerry sailed through his own confirmation, his thoughts turned to promoting the interests of the United Nations over those of the United States — global warming, the Kyoto Protocol, the whole ball of wax. As much as he coveted the head job at State, he may have been better suited for the Environmental Protection Agency.
At least Hagel is nominally a Republican, and hails from the common-sense agricultural state of Nebraska. All of which proves that incompetence, and yes, even stupidity, aren’t limited to any one political party, ideology or geography. We’re surrounded by it. We should recognize it and deal with it. We shouldn’t, however, reward it.