In the midst of the “Fiscal Cliff” battle, President Obama is also deep into Cabinet selection, and it was heartening to hear that former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican who served in Vietnam and became an acknowledged expert on foreign policy in his years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been at the White House, and is a hot candidate for Secretary of Defense.
This author has long raved about the credentials of Hagel, and suggested him for the cabinet in the first term, and it now seems more likely that he might become the head of the Pentagon when Leon Panetta leaves soon.
This would be continuing the tradition of past Democratic Presidents to decide to choose reputable Republicans for the Defense Department, and it even goes back to when it was called the War Department before 1947.
The historical record shows Franklin D. Roosevelt having Henry Stimson, former Secretary of State under Herbert Hoover, as his Secretary of War, along with Frank Knox, who had been the Republican Vice Presidential nominee in 1936, being named Secretary of the Navy, both in 1940, when Great Britain was being attacked by the German Air Force in World War II, and the threat to America was seen as dire by many as a result.
John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson utilized Robert McNamara as Secretary of Defense in the 1960’s.
Bill Clinton had former Maine Senator William Cohen, a responsible and reputable Republican Senator, as his Secretary of Defense in the second term, and he received kudos for his performance.
And Robert Gates, George W. Bush’s second Secretary of Defense, became Barack Obama’s first Secretary of Defense, and did a wonderful job for more than two years.
So the reasoning to pick Hagel is clearly there, but to make the foreign policy-defense team complete, the President also needs to choose Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, a Vietnam War veteran too, and 2004 Democratic Party Presidential nominee, to replace Hillary Clinton at the State Department, after 28 years of service in the US Senate, and chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Kerry has had a distinguished career, and would be an excellent choice, and the team of Kerry and Hagel would be sensational.
In a time of trouble and turmoil, America needs its strongest team on national security, and Kerry and Hagel fit the bill, without any question or doubt.
Susan Rice, the UN Ambassador, is also outstanding in many ways, but quite frankly, is not on the same level as Kerry, and her nomination would cause unnecessary turmoil over the issue of Libya, a sad commentary, but a distraction which should not be allowed to continue by choosing her, when Kerry is really a better choice!
So, Mr. President, pick John Kerry for State and Chuck Hagel for Defense, and America will be very well served at Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon!