After averting the fiscal cliff by reaching a deal with Republican leaders on New Year’s Eve, President Obama appears set to wade into a new fight with Congress next week by nominating former Nebraska GOP senator Chuck Hagel to be the next secretary of defense.
Key Democrats working closely on the nomination process tell The Daily Beast that the president is expected to announce the Hagel selection Monday or Tuesday. These sources also say Obama did not decide on Hagel until this week, after weighing Ash Carter, the current deputy secretary of defense, and Michèle Flournoy, a former No. 3 at the Pentagon, for the job.
Hagel has a lot of high-profile support, including the ad hoc Bipartisan Group, which very publicly sent this letter to Pres. Obama:
Then again, as the Daily Beast notes, there’s also significant opposition to Hagel:
While Hagel has a reservoir of support from elite journalists, foreign-policy intellectuals, and former government officials, he is not beloved by many other interest groups, including the pro-Israel lobby, the gay-equality lobby, and even Armenian-Americans.
Truth to tell, this rumpus has barely begun.