Barack Obama’s cabinet.
This of course is unusual seeing as Hagel was one of John McCain’s original supporters against then Governor George W. Bush of Texas, back in 1999 (when, by the way, Nebraska Governor Mike Johanns had endorsed Bush).
Hagel started much of this when interviewed last week by CNN. John King asked:
KING: Will you support John McCain?
HAGEL: Well, I’ve not been involved in the primary and I am still not involved in any of that. At the appropriate time, then I’ll have something to say about it.
KING: Are you saying you might not support the Republican Party’s nominee?
HAGEL: I said at the appropriate time, I’ll have something to say about it.
KING: Could Barack Obama potentially get your support in a race against John McCain?
HAGEL: I think he is a worthy candidate for president, as is Senator Clinton, as is certainly Senator McCain, others.
Senior (Obama) advisers confirmed that Hagel, a highly decorated Vietnam war veteran and one of McCain’s closest friends in the Senate, was considered an ideal candidate for defence secretary. Some regard the outspoken Republican as a possible vice-presidential nominee although that might be regarded as a “stretch”.
Asked about his choice of cabinet last week, Obama told The Sunday Times: “Chuck Hagel is a great friend of mine and I respect him very much.”
Hagel said he thought the next president ought to appoint a person from the opposite party for one of the “big three” slots: secretaries of defense, treasury or state. He says he wouldn’t rule out serving in any of the current candidates’ cabinets.
“If I’d have an opportunity to play a significant role in a significant position – if all the right pieces were there – sure you’d have to consider something like that,” Hagel said.
So as Hagel abandons his friend John McCain, and abandons the Republican party, one question that maybe should be asked is, is Hagel qualified to be Secretary of Defense?
This is a legitimate question, seeing as Hagel’s main experience in his Senate tenure has been on Foreign Relations Committee matters, and not Defense matters. Sure his service in the military is part of the equation, but no one is going to claim that every sergeant in the Army is ready to be the SecDef. The rest of Hagel’s background is business related –cellular phones, investment banking and the like.
But his Senate tenure has been focused on foreign relations, as opposed to questions of military strategy, troops, equipment, relationships with Generals and the rest of the Department of Defense. Now if you said Secretary of State, Hagel may be a much better consideration. Problem is, it’s unlikely that the Dems would give that plum of a job, the face of America abroad, to a Republican.
And of course, this all depends on Obama winning the Presidency, right? You don’t hear Hillary picking cabinet officers. And we’re guessing that Hagel’s inability to endorse his former friend McCain is going to keep any Republican White House doors closed to Chuck.
And by the way, we’re still wondering if Chuck will tape some ads for the Mike Johanns campaign.