Reports: Obama To Nominate Hagel as Defense Secretary

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 6 2013 10:56 AM

Reports: Obama To Nominate Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary (Probably on Monday)

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel and former President Bill Clinton stand on stage as Clinton is awarded the Distinguished International Leadership during the 2010 Atlantic Council awards dinner

Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images

The decision has apparently been made. President Obama will not back down and is set to move forward with the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican who went against his party on the Iraq war, to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, reports Politico’s Mike Allen and Darren Samuelsohn. The announcement is expected Monday in what will likely be the president’s first public appearance since returning to the White House from vacation Sunday. Reuters has confirmed the news, citing a Democratic aide, who also agrees the announcement could come as early as Monday.

Hagel’s nomination is likely to set off a fierce confirmation battle. It isn’t just Republicans who have voiced opposition to Hagel, but also pro-Israel and gay-rights groups, potentially hurting his prospects in the Democratic-controlled Senate. “I don’t think Dems just fall in line,” a Senate Democratic official tells Politico. “Ultimately, he may be confirmed. But at this stage, his fate is totally up in the air. He will really have to work hard to overcome some of his previous statements and positions.” McClatchy pointed out Friday that while Obama has generally avoided controversial selections for major posts, choosing another candidate would have also been damaging for the president, “because it would have been his second surrender on a top Cabinet choice within a month.”


Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration as a possible secretary of State nominee last month following a wave of criticism from Republicans over the Benghazi attacks.

Hagel’s confirmation battle is likely to center around what the Weekly Standard’s William Kristol has called Hagel’s “dangerous views on Iran and his unpleasant distaste for Israel and Jews.” In particular, critics have seized on 2008 comments Hagel made about how he sometimes opposes pro-Israel groups. But gay-rights groups have also opposed Hagel for disparaging an ambassadorial nominee as "openly, aggressively gay." Hagel has apologized for the comment.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to throw his support behind Hagel on Sunday, telling ABC that “I’m going to wait and see how the hearings go” to figure out whether the former senator’s views “make sense for that particular job.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.