And the "deep Republican bench" did not help George W. Bush when it came to running the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fact that the three top Republicans in the Bush Pentagon -- namely Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and Undersecretary for Policy Doug Feith -- had all served previously in the Pentagon did not prevent them from messing up both wars.
But even before Hagel's nomination was made official, three Republican senators -- Tom Coburn (R-OK), Dan Coats (R-IN), and John Cornyn (R-TX) -- said they would not vote for him.
Coburn says Hagel does not have the experience to manage a large organization like the Pentagon. Leaving aside the fact that Hagel has held many private and public sector management positions, does this mean that Coburn would have voted against two of the more successful secretaries of defense who came directly from the House, namely Republicans Melvin Laird and Dick Cheney?
Coats contends that Hagel has shown much disrespect for the military. Really? He disrespects it so much that he volunteered to serve in combat, was awarded two Purple Hearts, and coauthored the 9/11 GI Bill over the opposition of the Bush administration. (Coats, by the way, was turned down for the secretary of defense post by George W. Bush after he was interviewed for the job.) Does this mean that Coats would have voted against Caspar Weinberger and Leon Panetta, who both tried to slash defense spending while running OMB?
Cornyn says he cannot vote for Hagel because of his problem with Israel. What problem? According to several retired ambassadors, flag officers, former national security advisors, a former Republican secretary of defense, and former senators from both parties, no one has been more steadfast in supporting America's commitment to Israel than Hagel. And would Cornyn have voted against James Baker, who had a problem with Israel's settlement expansion and cut off loan guarantees to the country?
Neoconservatives like William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, argue that for all these reasons the case for Hagel is extraordinarily weak. Really? Hagel has the legislative background of Cheney, Laird, and Cohen; the management experience of McNamara and Wilson; and more Purple Hearts than his 23 predecessors combined. That's why the president nominated Hagel -- and why he was right to do so.