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?