Getting a Republican to Implement Democratic Defense Policies is Unnerving the GOP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


So it looks like Obama is going to nominate Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense after all. Andrew Sullivan says his core qualification is that he was a clear-eyed critic of the Iraq war even though he initially supported it:

Unlike so many of the lemmings and partisans of Washington DC, Hagel actually called out the catastrophe of the Iraq War as it happened. The neocons cannot forgive him for exposing what they wrought on the nation and the world. For good measure, he has a Purple Heart and has served in combat. Not easy to say about most of the Iraq War armchair warriors and war criminals.

Which is to say, as Chuck Todd said this morning, this nomination is about accountability for the Iraq War. All those ducking responsibility for the calamity — Abrams, Kristol, Stephens — are determined that those of us honest enough to resist, having supported in the first place, be erased from history. Or smeared as anti-Semites. Or given that epithet which impresses them but baffles me: “outside the mainstream”. Rephrase that as — after initial support — being “outside the Iraq War mainstream” in DC — and you have a major reason to back him.

I won’t pretend to have a firmly considered opinion about Hagel. On general principle, I don’t like the idea of nominating a Republican to run the Pentagon yet again. Doing it once is one thing. Doing it a second time sends a message that there just aren’t enough Democrats around who are qualified to run the warmaking branch of government.

Still, there’s no getting around the smartness of the strategy. When it comes to defense policy, Obama’s tenure has mostly been marked by (a) withdrawing troops from warzones, (b) cutting the Pentagon budget, and (c) repealing DADT. Getting a Republican on board as the public face of those policies gives them a bipartisan cast that would be nearly impossible to get otherwise. This is one reason that I think Republicans are so unnerved by Hagel. Despite what they say, their real problem is that they don’t like the idea that one of their own will be telling the country that it’s OK to withdraw from Afghanistan and it’s OK to shave the defense budget a bit.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate