American Elephants

An Unfortunate Day for the Country. by The Elephant's Child


Chuck Hagel has been confirmed as Secretary of Defense. In a Democrat-controlled Senate, it was always dubious that Republicans would be able to prevent it. There seems to be a sense in the Senate that a president is entitled to have his choices approved, at least when it is a Democrat president. If it is a Republican president’s nominees, all bets are off. I don’t get that.

Mr. Hagel is clearly not qualified for the office. The only thing his proponents were able to offer as a qualification was that he had served as an enlisted man in Vietnam and had received the purple heart for being wounded. Having served in combat may plausibly make a Secretary more concerned for the effect of combat on the troops, but the Hagel nomination should have been rejected on its own merit. He lacks the necessary executive skills and experience, embraces naïve and dangerous foreign policies, empathizes with our enemies, and completely misunderstands our relations with Israel.

The Defense Department is concerned with management, strategy, world affairs, readiness, development, procurement, supply. Mr. Hagel has shown no competence or understanding of in any of those sectors. President Obama has been quietly ridding the Pentagon of officers who dare to disagree with him, or offer advice he doesn’t like — some of our most outstanding generals. Mr. Obama wants to fund his welfare state, and a cooperative Secretary who will do his bidding without questioning, will make it easier.

President Obama, now that he has secured re-election, is ready to have as his cabinet appointees people who are completely in line with his own view of the world. Nuclear zero; the central problem in the Middle East is Israel; al Qaeda has been decimated; and if we are just less of a bully in the world, and stop throwing our weight around we will achieve some kind of world peace that the warmonger George W. Bush prevented— or something like that. We just need to talk to Iran and North Korea and stop picking on them and they will stop their attempts to get nuclear weapons to attack Israel and America.

Mark Bowden’s new book The Finish about the bin-Laden raid  discloses President Obama’s desire to capture bin Laden rather than kill him so that he could be tried in court. He quotes the president as saying he thought he would be in a strong political position to argue in favor of giving bin Laden the full rights of a criminal defendant if bin Laden went on trial for masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks.

“Frankly, my belief was if we had captured him, that I would be in a pretty strong position, politically, here, to argue that displaying due process and rule of law would be our best weapon against al-Qaeda, in preventing him from appearing as a martyr,” Obama is quoted saying in an interview with Bowden.

Obamabelieved that affording terrorists “the full rights of criminal defendants would showcase America’s commitment to justice for even the worst of the worst,”

Obama’s warped view of Islamic terrorism; his idea that the Israeli conflict with Hamas and Hezbollah is the cause of Middle East troubles; his idea that Egypt is a potential friend and sending 20 F-16s to them is a bright idea, is beyond troubling. That he is carefully selecting cabinet secretaries who will carry out these damaging policies should not get automatic Senate approval, just because a president is entitled to his choices.

The Founding Fathers, when they said that the Senate should advise and consent to a President’s appointees surely meant that they were to seriously consider the caliber of the appointees and when they were unqualified, fail to consent.

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