Who would you hire for the Pentagon’s east-of-Suez moment? According to the Washington Post, Obama picked Hagel to “bridge the partisan divide.”
Even for the court eunuchs of the palace media, that must be hard to type with a straight face: He seems to be all but entirely loathed by his own party. Nevertheless, he is technically a Republican, not to mention a bona fide war hero. Only Nixon can go to China, and only a pro-life, pro-gun, climate-denialist, homophobic, Strom Thurmond–loving, medal-draped Republican can go to the Pentagon and tell them to start clearing out their desks. Obama has picked a guy whose rhetoric is more anti-Pentagon than his own, and who, unlike most of the cabinet senators, has a record of executive experience that suggests he may well live up to it.
If he pulls it off, it’ll be a big part of Obama’s legacy. And, if he doesn’t, I’m sure the media will be happy to remind everyone that, oh well, Hagel was a Republican.
But beyond the politics is a real question. He’s not wrong to raise the question of Pentagon “bloat.” The United States has the most lavishly funded military on the planet, and what does it buy you? In the Hindu Kush, we’re taking twelve years to lose to goatherds with fertilizer.