But I think Brooks is right that Obama wants deep cuts to military spending and wants to use Chuck Hagel to give him political cover. The president has long spoken of the need to reduce defense spending, a position that grows not from his dedication to reducing the size of government but from his reluctance to use American power – both hard and soft. Even as top military leaders – uniformed and civilian – have warned about the potentially “catastrophic” consequences of the sequester cuts, the president has demonstrated little concern.

The Brooks theory on the Hagel pick was validated this morning with the words of a top Obama supporter. Bill Burton, former deputy White House press secretary and the man who ran Obama’s super PAC, explained the Hagel pick to Chuck Todd on The Daily Rundown.

“This is a guy who’s a decorated veteran, and when you’ve got a period of time when you’re going to have to make huge cuts to the Pentagon, he’s the sort of guy you want on your team doing it.”

So the president’s top advisers are touting Hagel as someone who makes “huge cuts to the Pentagon” a near certainty and easier to sell. There’s very little ambiguity about their intentions.