Ordinarily I would question this choice. Chuck Hagal is a blank slate on defense – he’s not authored a single substantive bill on the subject, written a paper on it, delivered a memorable speech about it. He’s the Susan Rice of defense – chosen to represent an issue about which he exhibits no particular expertise. His observations on international affairs have been curious, but then, the SecDef doesn’t set policy, just carries it out. And I think that is what lies behind the choice.
The president doesn’t want advisors, he wants functionaries that will carry out his vision of a “transformed” America – his legacy. Mr Obama will hand the next president a diminished and atrophied military, and his next SecDef will oversee the final evisceration of that force.
Both sides of the aisle will have more problems with this nominee than I do. I don’t think it will matter who sits at this desk for next four years – we will wind up with the smallest fleet since before World War I, the smallest fighter force in Air Force history, and a shrinking ground force. That’s the “vision.”
Democrats will have problems with Mr Hagal because he is a Republican. Republicans will have problems because of his rather curious views. I don’t look for this to be a smooth confirmation process, though, in the end, I think he will be confirmed.
Let’s start with the basics. A president is somewhat owed the people he wants to carry out the operation of the Executive Branch of government. There are, or should be, common sense exceptions: for example, Democrats denied Senator John Tower (R-TX) the same post due to a drinking problem – which manifested itself in his escorting a stripper into the Tidal Basin. If being befuddled by TurboTax® wasn’t found sufficient to deny Tim Giethner the Treasury job, then a featureless stint in the US Senate certainly won’t rise to that level.
Overall, I see the next SecDef more as a placeholder than an advocate or architect of the future military, and therefore, it doesn’t really matter who is in the job – they won’t be able to stop the momentum of the dismantling of American global power. Having said that, I don’t think it can be completed in four years, but the next president will have a major reconstruction job to do before considering much of anything else. These programs have such long lead-times, that the damage that will be done in next four years will take a decade or so to rectify. In the meantime, critical institutional capacity will erode and an irreplaceable skilled workforce will dwindle. But again, this is the “vision.”
I can’t really think of Democrat that I would want as SecDef, so a nondescript one is probably as good as any.
 In an extraordinary vote, the Senate overlooked what everyone knew was an outright lie and confirmed a tax-cheat to head the agency that oversees the IRS. This was a new low in the legitimacy of the Senate confirmation process.