The phrase “I’ll be back,” was used by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator. After taking a licking by the Senate Armed Services Committee in the nomination process, Hagel may well warn them that he shall return.
When he does, it will be for official business as Secretary of Defense and he will be in the executive command. The story by Jeremy Herb from The Hill says that the working relationship could be rough.
That would be a big change from the smooth operators who have managed the department from Donald Rumsfeld to Leon Panetta. Republicans and Democrats have come and gone and now a Democrat President has once again nominated a Republican Senator to the post.
Republicans are so discombobulated that they don’t even like one another. Obama knew that he was giving to them a person of his own thinking, a defense secretary who will be less hawkish.
Yet, the confirmation hearing revealed a couple of important things. Hagel is unpredictable. He is changeable. He needs to do his homework to get on the same page with the administration. Instability and discontinuity are bad behavior for this assignment, so the challenge is for Hagel to shape up quickly.
Perhaps the Obama plan is to surround him with John Kerry. This is a big Kerry moment. If Kerry can help redirect foreign policy and improve the application of military capability in the implementation, he could emerge as a 2016 candidate to replace Mrs. Clinton who “bumped her head”.
"Bruising confirmation fight could weaken Hagel in top Pentagon job
By Jeremy Herb - 02/02/13 06:14 AM ET
Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) may survive a bruising confirmation battle in the Senate, but the fight will leave him in a weakened position trying to sell the Pentagon’s agenda to Congress.
President Obama’s nominee to lead the Pentagon was subjected to a harsh eight-hour grilling at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he faced a barrage of attacks Thursday from most Republicans on the panel.
It’s the same committee that will work closely with the next Defense secretary on a number of pressing issues, from sequestration and budget cuts to the drawdown in Afghanistan.
Defense analysts and congressional aides say that Hagel’s rough confirmation hearing and a near party-line vote that’s expected on the Senate floor will sap what little political capital he may have had heading into the top Pentagon job.
One GOP aide knowledgeable in defense issues said that Republican uneasiness over Hagel would make it much tougher to him reach deals over controversial issues in defense legislation than Obama’s first two Defense secretaries, Robert Gates and Leon Panetta.
“You need a strong, tough secretary of Defense to push back when he’s right, and not cave when he faces tough questions,” said the aide. “With a guy like Hagel, you don’t know that a deal you cut in the room is the deal you’ve got when he leaves. With Gates, and Panetta, at least you knew that.””