I knew of Chuck Hagel when I worked in the Senate. He was not exactly Mr. Congeniality, which makes one wonder how he’ll fair during his endless appearances before his former colleagues as an administration official. This was a guy so surly and grim that he made Tommy Lee Jones look like SpongeBob SquarePants…

Yes, he had a conservative voting record in the Senate. But on many defense issues, he has long been on the same page as Obama. During the Bush administration, for example, Hagel was more critical of the conduct of the Iraq War than was Hillary Clinton, calling the 2003 invasion the “biggest blunder” since Vietnam. Not exactly a quote that won hearts and minds on Fox News. In fact, Senator Hagel was never a reliable Republican vote. Like his friend John McCain, he loved positioning himself as a Senate “maverick” on all kinds of issues.

If President Obama really meant to include a different voice in his administration, then he might have appointed Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum to a post. (Think they wouldn’t take an Obama Cabinet job? Then you don’t know Washington.) Or the president might have taken the idea I expressed a couple of weeks ago in this space—and nominated Mitt Romney for the otherwise inconsequential post of secretary of commerce.