Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Hope and Change Cabinet: Secretary of Defense

Contender #1:
Senator Charles ("Chuck") Hagel

Chuck Hagel is a 62-year-old Republican from Nebraska. He was raised in a middle class, Catholic, immigrant family. He attended parochial schools, then attended a communications school briefly after graduation from high school. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at the peak of the Vietnam War, and served as an infantryman, earning the rank of sergeant (E5), the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Combat Infantry Badge.

Hagel returned from the war, and re-entered college, graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1972. He served as a Congressional staffer until 1977, then left to start a company, Vanguard Cellular. When Reagan won the Presidency in 1980, Hagel served briefly as a Deputy Administrator of Veteran’s Affairs. He resigned after about a year as a result of a disagreement with VA Administrator Robert Nimmo about the nature of the services that should be provided. Hagel was supportive of greater veteran’s benefits.

As founder of Vanguard Cellular, Hagel is a multi-millionaire. His Senate career began in 1996 during the Clinton administration.


Senator Hagel has supported the provisions of the Patriot Act, almost without exception. He wisely voted against implementing the partisan findings of the 9/11 Commission report. He also correctly recognized that the detainees at Guantanemo, as enemy combatants, are not eligible for and should not be extended Geneva Convention protections like habeas corpus. He also voted to protect the CIA from interference in their interrogations of detainees.

He has been a vocal supporter of the military, voting for their pay raise of 4.8% in 1999, and limiting their deployments to 12 months. He also voted wisely against prohibiting same-sex basic training, like that employed by the Marines. His support for the military found him at odds with some of his Republican colleagues, however, when it came to Iraq. He opposed Iraq as an unjust “war of choice – like Vietnam” from the beginning, and consistently accused the CIA of lying about intelligence that led the U.S. into war. He never saw Iraq as a legitimate threat, and was very vocal about that. He did, however, vote to authorize military force against Iraq in 2002, and has voted against timetables for withdrawal subsequently.

Ironically, he was supportive of air striking Kosovo during the Clinton years, an action that certainly could also be attacked on the basis of a similar “war of choice”.

Job Fitness:

Senator Hagel’s history suggests that he is (1) not afraid to use military force when necessary, but his experiences as an enlistedman in Vietnam have made him (2) appropriately cautious about sending troops into harm’s way. He is (3) a military and veteran’s advocate, a reputation he has continued to earn for years. He is (4) not afraid to take unpopular positions, even when it places him at odds with his own party.

As a (5) veteran, especially former enlisted, he would be (6) very respectable to the military. He is (7) tenacious, and believes that (8) once the military is employed, victory must be the outcome.

It is the opinion of MOCKBADOC that he would make a good Secretary of Defense.

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