Perhaps the better test for Mr. Hagel is political courage, something he’s supposed to possess in spades. “He had the courage to buck his own party on the Iraq War,” says White House spokesman Tommy Vietor. Tweets David Axelrod: “He’s tough, courageous, sensible & able to withstand political pressure to do what’s right for USA. What we need!” …

OK, let’s see about that.

In 1998, when it was politically opportune for Mr. Hagel to do so, he bashed Clinton nominee James Hormel for being “openly, aggressively gay,” a fact he said was disqualifying for becoming ambassador to Luxembourg. Late last year, when it was again politically opportune, Mr. Hagel apologized for his gay-bashing. Mr. Hormel accepted the apology, while noting that “the timing appears to be self-serving.” Yes it did. …

Moving forward, in 2008 Mr. Hagel endorsed engagement with Syria’s Bashar Assad and North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, and he was especially keen on engagement with Iran, enthusing at one point that “Iran had rights for women long before many countries in the world. Women could vote, I actually think before they could vote in America.” (He’s wrong: Iranian women were enfranchised only in 1963, thanks to the Shah.)