Tennessee Senator Bob Corker made headlines Sunday morning when he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he has questions about Chuck Hagel’s “overall temperament” and whether he’s “suited to run a big entity like the Pentagon.” Hagel, who has been tapped by President Obama to be the next Secretary of Defense, has a wide array of skeptics lining up for a turn at having “questions” of their own answered by the former Nebraska Senator. When you have the Jewish community, the Gay and Lesbian Community, a substantial chunk of the Dem-controlled Senate, and pretty much all of the conservative Right questioning your selection, you’re probably not on a smooth track to confirmation.
Regarding Hagel’s “temperament”, Corker said “there are a number of staffers who are coming forth now just talking about the way he has dealt with them”; but did not elaborate. One could assume he’s also talking about some of his fellow senators – notably John McCain – who have been extremely outspoken about their dealings with then Senator Hagel.
While the “temperament” line is the one that grabbed early headlines, Senator Corker was quick to point out that his concerns were not “disqualifying” or limited to his general dealings with “staffers” and colleagues.
“I begin all of these confirmation processes with an open mind. I did have a good relationship with him. I had a good conversation with him this week. But I think this is one where people are going to be listening to what he has to say, me in particular … especially some of the positions he’s taken generally speaking about our nuclear posture.”
Specifically, Senator Corker is concerned about the progress we’ve made – particularly in modernization – under the New START treaty that went into effect in February of 2011. He feels the next Defense Secretary is going to play a crucial role in moving that process along.
Senator Corker’s concerns are shared by many and are certainly warranted…
Speaking in 2011, Hagel said:
The Defense Department, I think in many ways has been bloated… We’ve taken dollars, we’ve taken programs, we’ve taken policies out of the State Department, out of a number of other departments and put them over in Defense… The abuse and the waste and the fraud is astounding. It always is in war… I think the Pentagon needs to be pared down. I think we need the Pentagon to look at their own priorities.
Hagel also co-authored a report by the Global Zero U.S. Nuclear Policy Commission where substantial cuts to our American nuclear arsenal were recommended including but not limited to an elimination of short range nuclear weapons, ICBM’s, and B-52 bombers. (Essentially everything but the really big stuff that pretty would more or less lead to the end of the world as we know it.)
I suppose that squares with Hagel’s general approach to national security…
“Security is mainly a state of mind, not a physical condition …”
That’s like telling the skinny guy at the gym doing 5 lb curls in a wife-beater and an assortment of Nike bands that he’s as “awesome” as he thinks he is.