Home/Daniel Larison/A Lack of Enthusiasm for Hagel?

A Lack of Enthusiasm for Hagel?

James Poulos makes a questionable claim:

The reality is that Chuck Hagel isn’t a challenging nominee for Obama because of how much certain Republicans despise him. It’s because Hagel has so few champions — or even enthusiastic supporters. It isn’t much of a stretch to say that, right now, Barack Obama is his only champion. Maybe Obama is his only enthusiastic supporter, too.

If James means that there apparently aren’t a lot of enthusiastic Hagel supporters in the Senate, he may be right, but I don’t think it’s entirely true that he doesn’t have some significant support from other high-profile people. A few years ago, many of the same people campaigning against Hagel thought very highly of Ryan Crocker’s tenure as U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Last week, the same Ryan Crocker wrote a very strong endorsement of Hagel for Secretary of Defense. That’s the most recent example that comes to mind, but it seems relevant. Here is part of Crocker’s endorsement:

These experiences taught me that Chuck Hagel is a statesman, and America has few of them. He knows the leaders of the world and their issues. At a time when bipartisanship is hard to find in Washington, he personifies it. Above all, he has an unbending focus on U.S. national security, from his service in Vietnam decades ago to his current position on the Intelligence Advisory Council.

Mr. Hagel would run the Defense Department; it would not run him. And as America’s wars abroad wind down, it is clear from his record of service to veterans—and his own experience as one of them—that they would receive the support they deserve after they have put their lives on the line for the country.

It’s not excessive and hysterical as so much of the criticism over the last few weeks, but that’s a fairly enthusiastic statement of support. Perhaps one reason that there have not been more expressions of support for Hagel is that before today he hasn’t been officially nominated for anything. Until today, there hasn’t definitely been a nomination for anyone to support, enthusiastically or otherwise, so it probably would have seemed a little premature to many possible Hagel supporters in the Senate and elsewhere to offer praise for something that might not happen. Besides, the intensity of Hagel’s support in the Senate and elsewhere is less important than the number of Senators willing to oppose him no matter what. My impression is that there simply aren’t enough hard-liners, and Senate Democrats aren’t going to help the other party take down one of Obama’s Cabinet nominees.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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