Michael Hastings makes me worry about Chuck Hagel as Defense secretary.
Hastings: My question we have to watch in this, how does an individual who got rolled like that in public project his force of will over the bureaucracy over million people? And there’s going on to be so much resistance. This is an institution that he has spent the last part of the decade criticizing what their day-to-day activities have been. Hagel has been a severe critic of the wars in Afghanistan and Iran.
Aki Gharib: Mike, my boss Peter Beinart reported that he talked to sources close to Hagel and the administration and the administration sources played it down, but those closer to the Hagel side of the administration told him basically to lay down. you don’t want to pick a fight. the guy got rolled.
Chris Hayes: He was strategically allowing himself to be rolled.
Michael Hastings: He pulled an Obama.
Ali Gharib: My arm chair of Psychology on it was he did it with absolutely no grace because here is a guy who is used to whatever he thinks, he spouts out and it’s got him in trouble and it’s really, really poor, like i’m going to ask these guys give me tough questions.
Barbara Slavin: He doesn’t like talking points.
Chris Hayes: And it looked like there was a gun off screen aimed to his head. he couldn’t muster any kind of performative investment in his recantation.
Ali Gharib: He couldn’t believe in it.
Michael Hastings: It’s 15 degrees to the left, the right or the center. if you’ve expressed any views outside of that, which Hagel has done, they try to magicalize it as much as they can.
Ali Gharib: But, in fact, I think that he will actually be able to — I don’t know what his bureaucratic skills are like, his old talking points said he was a CEO which makes for good executive skills. I don’t know if that’s all true for him to work in a government bureaucracy like that. but the guy, he really is in the right place owes these big challenges coming up, despite what he said about Iran, he’s really great on Iran. and, frankly, he is even a little bit to the right of me, like talking up the — all options on the table thing. like I don’t — I think that at some point you have to cut out all the threat making with Iran if you want to make a deal. but at least he wants to have the conversation about how terrible that war would be. you know, he’s on the record as having said that. I wish he had said it in this confirmation hearing. I understand why he didn’t. getting out of Afghanistan, on cutting the pentagon budget, and I do think that he was out of place not being able to say what he thought. but if he gets into the Pentagon bureaucracy, he’s going to have some enemies there, but he’s got the respect of a lot of brass there.
Michael Hastings: These are going to be fights. even on the withdrawal of Afghanistan–
Chris Hayes: This is not a foregone conclusion. I remember someone in the White House once telling me about Iraq. when Iraq was done and everyone kind of forgot about it, someone in the who you say White House saying that was a harder plane to land than it looked. actually ending war is —
Ali Gharib: Because John McCain doesn’t want to get out of any of them.
Kiron Skinner: I actually think there is a case that we should talk about in terms of making chuck hagel the secretary of defense. and it’s not just is he a good man and it’s good to hear that you have — you understand the kind of human side of him. but the fact that we’re going to make cuts in defense, no matter what happens, someone who comes from the ranks of the military and has credibility there, having been a decorated Vietnam vet is important. and he will have credibility on that score some some others might not. the fact that he will have the ear of the president and this is the Republican that the president reached out to is going to be important. we want a strong secretary of defense to be a player at the table of this administration. we know Secretary Kerry will be a formidable secretary of state because of his relationship to the president, his long record, and his performance in the senate. so I think he brings that background. also, if you just looked at the visual of the hearings, who was seated on either side of him? Senator Warner, Senator Nunn. How many people can command that kind of support? It’s going to be necessary to get the hard work done in the future.
I really want Hagel to succeed. This pathetic performance makes me dread the possibility, that Hagel will barely last a year, as the Pentagon takes a buzz saw to his opinions. And then, we’ll get some stooge of a deputy defense secretary, as happened at CIA with Petraeus, who will then step aside for a real yes man.
I’m also disgusted by the spectacle – witness Lindsay Graham and John McCain – where every politician from a southern state is allowed to be a demagogue on national TV, because we can’t alienate the crackers. I know FDR needed these odious reptiles, to get the New Deal passed. I know Hagel’s confirmation is a done deal. But, how about a little debate, to air out the crackpot arguments? Are conservatives so scared of every other sane person in the country, that spineless spittoons like Graham couldn’t just pass his time to a man with reasonable questions?