Michael Walsh makes what may be the most bizarre anti-Hagel argument yet:
Of course, in Hagel’s case that very “historic” element — that the former grunt would be the first enlisted man to head up DOD — is the same thing that ought to have disqualified him in the first place.
There is a perfectly good argument that military service in itself doesn’t prepare someone to run a large government department. Walsh doesn’t make that argument. He doesn’t even try. It is preposterous to say that military service–at any level–disqualifies someone from being Secretary of Defense. Walsh’s argument is essentially that anyone who has had relevant experience as a soldier in a misguided, unnecessary war shouldn’t be allowed as Defense Secretary because his first-hand knowledge of how horrible war is might make him averse to it.
It is certainly notable and interesting that Hagel will be the first enlisted man in this position, but it isn’t why he’s qualified for the job. Hagel has other relevant managerial and political experience that make him well-suited for it. Considering the recent debacle in Iraq under civilian leaders that never served in combat, one would think that it might be useful to have combat veterans in senior civilian leadership posts. The value of Hagel’s military service is that his experience will presumably make him less reckless and arrogant when it comes time to decide on taking military action. Because his “view of the military was through the wrong end of the telescope” (that’s how Walsh describes being in combat), Hagel would presumably advise against needless and ill-considered uses of force. It is precisely because he is less likely to endorse unnecessary and ill-considered military adventures that hard-liners can’t stand him.