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It’s Not Israel for Hagel, But Negative Onslaught Could Pave Way for First Female SecDef

“Senator Hagel is one of the most well-respected and thoughtful voices on both foreign and domestic policy,” retired Gen. Brent Scowcroft, a former Republican national security advisor, told The Cable. “At an uncertain time in America-with a significant debt burden, a polarized Congress, and a host of challenges facing the international community, I am confident Senator Hagel will provide a vibrant, no-nonsense voice of logic and leadership to the United States.” – Friends of Chuck Hagel Gear Up for a Fight

REPORTS BEYOND Bill Kristol swiftboating Senator Chuck Hagel on Israel are ricocheting around Washington. There are all sorts of anonymous quotes landing about the former Republican Senator, telling a tale that he had serious issues when it came to playing well and fair with his subordinates.

Michèle Flournoy has been on President Obama’s list from the start for the Secretary of Defense position. She remains on that list and was a favorite of many long before Hagel’s negative press started piling up.

There’s still no evidence that Ms. Flournoy would be an independent actor, but it might help move our military forward on sexual assaults and harassment that continue unabated in our Armed Forces. Whether Flournoy could manage solidifying females in leading combat positions, as well as expand their civil rights on health care, including abortion that is legal on American soil, is another matter entirely.

Flournoy also addressed the rumors about her potential selection as the next defense secretary, saying “I’m honored to be speculated about, but I’m very happy to be where I am at the moment, since leaving public service.” [CBS News]

Needless to say, the thought of having the first female Secretary of Defense, someone like Michèle Flournoy, specifically, makes me a tad giddy. Flournoy was the Pentagon’s top policy adviser to former defense chief Robert Gates, with a focus on China. She maneuvered the treacherous waters between defense policy and politics. She left her position, after six months assisting Secretary Panetta, because she was missing her family. Her husband Scott Gould is the second in command at the Department of Veterans Affairs

“Right now I need to recalibrate a little bit and invest a little bit more in the family account for a while,” she told the AP. “We’ve been going flat out for more than three years.” [Time]

The latest public report from Free Beacon on Hagel’s problems:

Others familiar with Hagel’s 12 year tenure in the Senate said he routinely intimidated staff and experienced frequent turnover.

“Chuck Hagel may have been collegial to his Senate colleagues but he was the Cornhusker wears Prada to his staff, some of whom describe their former boss as perhaps the most paranoid and abusive in the Senate, one who would rifle through staffers desks and berate them for imagined disloyalty,” said Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq. “He might get away with that when it comes to staffers in their 20s, but that sort of personality is going to go over like a ton of bricks at the Pentagon.”

Multiple sources corroborated this view of Hagel.

“As a manager, he was angry, accusatory, petulant,” said one source familiar with his work on Capitol Hill. “He couldn’t keep his staff.”

“I remember him accusing one of his staffers of being ‘f–ing stupid’ to his face,” recalled the source who added that Hagel typically surrounded himself with those “who basically hate Republicans.”

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6 Responses to It’s Not Israel for Hagel, But Negative Onslaught Could Pave Way for First Female SecDef

  1. Ramsgate December 20, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    I hope you’re not blaming the Republicans for this. :-)
    They are just being true to form — what should we expect?
    It’s the hapless, spineless, ineffective Obama administration that will never get its act together. They will never learn.

    • Taylor Marsh December 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

      Pres. Obama has admitted he’s basically a moderate Republican, out of the 1980s style, with David Plouffe pegging him as a Blue Dog conservative with Woodruff, and that’s *exactly* how he’s run his presidency.

      • Ramsgate December 20, 2012 at 4:06 pm #


  2. Cujo359 December 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Words can’t express my distaste for Chuck Hagel, so just about anyone would be a step up. I hadn’t heard of Flournoy before, but that shouldn’t be too surprising. There are a lot of Pentagon insiders I haven’t heard of. That’s what she appears to be, along with someone who is connected to the current Democratic Party hierarchy. I’ve read the intro to what appears to be a paper describing her defense philosophy. It looks like a mixture of what you seem to have in mind when you use the word “progressive”, Taylor, that sort of bland assumption that our way is best, mixed with DC conventional wisdom, which, of course, includes some profoundly mistaken views on how economies work. At any rate, I have yet to be impressed.

    Still, I think she’s a step up from Chuck Hagel. At least she has a philosophical outlook, and it doesn’t appear to be totally malevolent.

    • Pilgrim December 20, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

      I’m curious as to the basis of your “distaste” for Hagel. Would appreciate if you’d enlarge on your opinion. “Totally malevolent” is very strong language.

      My impression of him is pretty positive. But that’s my impression, not that I actually know very much. Hope to hear what you have to say.

      • Cujo359 December 20, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

        When I wrote “not totally malevolent”, I was referring to Flournoy’s writing, not to Hagel.

        Hagel is another self-serving egomaniac DC has plenty of already. He hasn’t demonstrated any actual ability to run anything of a political nature, which being SecDef would be. He also didn’t show any interest in bucking his party leadership when they were, by his own statements, clearly wrong. He showed talent for having his voting machines in place when he was elected by a suspiciously large margin, but beyond that, I haven’t seen anything about him to indicate much real usefulness.

        Most politicians are positive. They have to be. The negative ones, the Kucinichs of the world, aren’t taken seriously, because they’re not Serious. They’re always talking smack about America, after all, how could they be Serious People?

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong