Just three months ago, Chuck Hagel was flailing under fire on Capitol Hill,  trying to convince his former colleagues in the Senate that he was the right man  to run the Pentagon.

Since then, the newly minted defense secretary has been dealing with massive  budget cuts, tense flare-ups in Syria and North Korea and a widening sexual  assault scandal that threatens to corrode the ranks. In spite of it all, he’s  getting high marks — even from those who opposed him from the start.

“I’m very pleased,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South  Carolina Republican who during his confirmation hearing grilled Hagel on  controversial remarks he made about Israel. Graham voted against Hagel but now  says he’s happy with the way Hagel has tackled a flurry of national security  challenges in his first three months on the job.

“He’s been a good advocate that sequestration is going to be a real death  blow to our military readiness. He’s reached out to Congress. He’s been  forthcoming in his remarks, trying to take the chain of command out of military  justice decisions and various sexual harassment [cases]. I don’t agree with  that, but generally speaking, I think he’s done a good job,” Graham told  POLITICO.

That must have been painful to admit.  Too bad people have to be excoriated, their reputations besmirched  and their character impugned just to get nominated to serve.  What was done to Chuck Hagel was inexcusable.

Is it fair to say that anyone President Obama nominates will face the same uphill battles?



8 Thoughts to “Secretary of Defense Hagel sails rather than flails”

  1. George S. Harris

    So far Hagel seems to be doing a good job but I think it is too soon to really know. The sexual assault issue has yet to be resolved and a new thing that has popped up on some screens is his decision to start all over again on a seamless system for Electronic Health Records to pass them over to the VA when a service person is referred to the VA. There are literally thousands and thousands of veterans who are still having difficulty getting appropriate medical services from the VA because DoD and the VA don’t have a good system of records handoff. It’s been almost 62 years since I joined the Navy and the problem has been going on at least that long. First it was simply that military health records were different for the services–Army had their own, Air Force had their own and Navy/Marine Corps had their own. We didn’t speak the same language and still don’t in some ways. When you throw the VA into the mix things really go sour. Hagel says it will be at least 2015 before things are fixed–don’t hold your breath. So I’m holding my vote on Hagel for now–ask me in a year or so.

  2. The sexual assault thing has also been an on-going problem. It seems to be a built in part of the culture. I guess the locals were the brunt of it before women were active in the military and admitted to the academies. 99% of the people aren’t sexual predators. Its the 1% who are that are causing the horrible problems.

  3. George S. Harris

    I suspect you’re absolutely right Moon. For years the military was (and still is in most ways) a testosterone fueled enterprise. Unless that changes, the 1% will still be there. I find it very interesting that many of the folks in charge of “sexual assault” offices/departments are males. Does this verify the old adage that, “You send a thief to catch a thief”? Hmmmm…

    1. I agree with Moe that the commanding officer has to be removed from the equation.

  4. @Moon-howler
    Moon, did you get the email I sent that had a link to an article about the sexual assault debacle?

    1. Hi Cargo. I was just wodering where you were. I almost sent out an all call. Did you have a pleasant Memorial Day?

      Yes I got it and tagged the email to go back and promptly forgot.

  5. Kelly_3406

    He hasn’t been tested yet. I agree with George — talking tough about sexual harassment does not mean much. The jury is still put on his performance ….

    1. In this political climate, with sequestration, a war, a near war, and sexual harassment on his plate, just getting up and going to work seems like a test to me.

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