Gibbs: Hagel “unimpressive and unprepared”

posted at 9:01 am on February 4, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

How do you know a nominee is in trouble?  Well, when reliable White House apologists on Sunday morning talk shows call him “unimpressive and unprepared,” it’s not exactly a good sign.  Robert Gibbs dismissed the rough treatment John McCain gave Chuck Hagel as a grudge match, but admitted that watching Hagel fumble his way through obvious questions didn’t exactly instill a great sense of confidence in this appointment (via Mediaite):

“The disconcerting thing, obviously, for anybody that watched it was he seemed unimpressive and unprepared on the questions that, quite frankly, he knew was coming,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs continued to argue, though, that Hagel was ready to be Defense Secretary, but Gibbs didn’t offer any real qualifications that Hagel has to make that point.  Instead, Gibbs goes on about how Tim Geithner gave a bad speech three weeks into his term as Treasury Secretary but ended up being a great appointment.  The difference is that no one doubted Geithner’s experience and qualifications before his confirmation — they doubted whether a candidate that couldn’t pay his own taxes properly should head the IRS, among other agencies at Treasury.

Dorothy Rabinowitz is less merciful in the Wall Street Journal:

It shouldn’t have been surprising that the Senate hearings to confirm Chuck Hagel as the next secretary of defense ended up shedding light on much more than this nominee and his qualifications. The trumpets had sounded long in advance on the main claim for Mr. Hagel—i.e., that his experience as an enlisted man, a combat veteran, had endowed him with special expertise not given to others, on matters of war, on our nuclear capacity, the size of our defense budget, a capacity to take the measure of Iran and North Korea.

Mr. Hagel had come by this wisdom, we were informed, because he had been at the front, seen men die, and knew, as we were frequently reminded, what the ordinary soldier thought and felt. All of this, the argument ran, gave him a unique capacity to head the Defense Department.

Could rational men and women seriously credit such a claim? The credential has been touted even by Mr. Hagel’s devout partisans on the left, delirious over the prospect of so conspicuous a voice of antiwar sentiment as secretary of defense. And of course by the president who chose, by this nomination, to make the dreams of those cadres come true.

The same argument was made for Mr. Hagel in the confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, though it would come less and less often as events took a decidedly disastrous turn for the nominee. Here was an affair sizzling with exchanges that seemed to come straight from a skillful Hollywood script of the old school—the kind whose most improbable scenes feel like gut-wrenching reality. …

Matters didn’t improve when Mr. Hagel announced, regarding Iran’s nuclear capacity, that he supported the president’s strong position on “containment.” But the administration’s policy is not, as Mr. Hagel apparently had yet to learn, containment—it is to prevent Iran’s development of nuclear arms.

Nudged by a note handed him by an aide, the nominee corrected himself and declared that in fact the U.S. doesn’t have a policy on containment. This was one misstatement too many for Carl Levin—the committee chairman, a Democrat and supporter of Mr. Hagel’s nomination—who ended the discussion with his own terse correction: “We do have a position on containment, and that is we do not favor containment.”

Rabinowitz doesn’t even mention the worst answer Hagel gave — his admission that he knows little about the Defense Department or the systems and bureaucracies within it.  The bizarre spectacle left everyone wondering why Obama decided to pick someone so obviously unprepared — and obviously unwilling to prepare even when given the chance.  That’s “disconcerting,” certainly, and should have everyone in the Senate asking whether “advise and consent” should amount to “advise and dissent” in Hagel’s case.


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Instead, Gibbs goes on about how Tim Geithner gave a bad speech three weeks into his term as Treasury Secretary but ended up being a great appointment.

Thanks Gibbs, I needed a good laugh since I hate Monday mornings.

gsherin on February 4, 2013 at 9:04 AM

Maybe Hagel really doesn’t want the job?

birdwatcher on February 4, 2013 at 9:05 AM

“unimpressive and unprepared,”

That response makes me curious how Mr. Obama would have performed under such direct scrutiny- which he still has never received.

Hagel, while bumbling and at times borderline incoherent, accurately reflected both the positions and competence of Mr. Obama’s policies.

I frankly blame the message as equally as the messenger. While Mr. Hagel may be many things, at least he is honest. And the next nominee may leave us longing for that.

Marcus Traianus on February 4, 2013 at 9:06 AM

Heck, Hagel just used Obama’s first debate with Romney as his yardstick for success!

NavyMustang on February 4, 2013 at 9:07 AM

Hagel is unprepared? Ya think so? Really? Hmm…….whats new?

tommy71 on February 4, 2013 at 9:10 AM

The bizarre spectacle left everyone wondering why Obama decided to pick someone so obviously unprepared — and obviously unwilling to prepare even when given the chance.

I think the answer is obvious — To give his horridly incompetent and corrupt administration the appearance of bipartisan support and to act as a rubber stamp for the draconion cuts Obama has in store for national defense.

RobertE on February 4, 2013 at 9:14 AM

Nuts. Got the quote marks in the wrong spot.

RobertE on February 4, 2013 at 9:14 AM

Everything the regime does is politically inspired. To pretend that Hagel was prepared and did a good job would not poll well. So they did what does poll well this time. They had to tell the truth.

rodguy911 on February 4, 2013 at 9:16 AM

Hagel, while bumbling and at times borderline incoherent, accurately reflected both the positions and competence of Mr. Obama’s policies.
Marcus Traianus

Perfect !

Lucano on February 4, 2013 at 9:19 AM

At this point, what difference does it make?

Mimzey on February 4, 2013 at 9:19 AM

I am thinking with all of this scrutiny, his approval will probably only garner 85 votes…pathetic, he should have already been shown the door.

hillsoftx on February 4, 2013 at 9:25 AM

If Hagel was on record as being a Democrat the criticism from Gibbs would not be as pointed.

DaveDief on February 4, 2013 at 9:28 AM

Mr. Hagel had come by this wisdom, we were informed, because he had been at the front, seen men die, and knew, as we were frequently reminded, what the ordinary soldier thought and felt. All of this, the argument ran, gave him a unique capacity to head the Defense Department.

So why didn’t the POTUS have to serve “at the front” so to speak before becoming the world’s most powerful executive? We were told Bark’s inexperience was a good thing because he was untainted by D.C.

Shameless hacks protected by a bootlicking media.

Bishop on February 4, 2013 at 9:29 AM

“unimpressive and unprepared,”

That should be the title to obozo’s third autobiography.

Flange on February 4, 2013 at 9:30 AM

How do you know a nominee is in trouble?

Hagel did what was probably the worst confirmation testimony in recent history if not ever. Yet, there is no evidence his nomination is in trouble. The Dems will vote for him lockstep.

Which leads me to the GOP. If ever there were a time for filibuster, this is the nomination to do it on. Face it, when the chairman of the committee has to send you a note explaining that the administration’s position in Iran is not one of containment then you are utterly unfit for the job. It would be nice to see the GOP show some spine and say so but I suspect they will cave.

Happy Nomad on February 4, 2013 at 9:30 AM

“unimpressive and unprepared,”

\

That should be the title to obozo’s third autobiography.

Flange on February 4, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Would eventually make a great epitaph too.

Happy Nomad on February 4, 2013 at 9:32 AM

“unimpressive and unprepared” as compared to:

chu
kegel
sotomoto
hillary

any of the countless minions that are running our country at unelected and unregulated by minor documents such as the constitution, common law, statutory law, ethics and common sense?

acyl72 on February 4, 2013 at 9:53 AM

Putting Hagel forth for consideration is pre-meditated act of mis-direction by the Hussein Regime. They obviously knew he would be a train wreck. Now all the Dems and Repubs can come together to throw him off the stage. This little scripted scenario by the WH would leave some to believe that Dems are rational. We all know better. The really interesting act in this play will be to see who Hussein surfaces as the replacement for Hagel. Whomever that person is, is the one who we should be most concerned about because that individual is the one that Hussein has most likely charged with the mission to undermine the mission of the Defense Department.

vboscaino on February 4, 2013 at 10:17 AM

Hagel just had a “Biden moment”, that’s all. The President is evolving on the question of a nuclear Iran, and he just hasn’t announced it yet. Because they arent yet nuclear.

MTF on February 4, 2013 at 11:08 AM

The bizarre spectacle left everyone wondering why Obama decided to pick someone so obviously unprepared — and obviously unwilling to prepare even when given the chance.

Chances are, Hagel was the least-worst-qualified among those who said yes and would submit to the Obamabot mind implant.

Marcola on February 4, 2013 at 11:19 AM

Hagel “unimpressive and unprepared”

Which means that he’s a shoo-in. Come on, there is no question that democrats will support him unanimously … and Republicans simply can’t wait to cave-in on Hagel, just like they caved on Kerry and everything else.

Pork-Chop on February 4, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Sigh. Where have all the wise Latinas gone?

parke on February 4, 2013 at 12:49 PM

It must be a relief to Gibbs to not have to lie 24×7, as he used to.

Jay Carney has to be feeling the strain of the tremendous load of BS that he carries day by day.

Is there a bigger idiot than Hagel around? Sure.

virgo on February 5, 2013 at 11:55 AM