Who’d have thought one of Obama’s biggest confirmation fights would come from nominating a Republican to head the Pentagon.
President Obama Taps Chuck Hagel for Defense, John Brennan for CIA (full wrap from Devin Dwyer and Jon Karl) – http://abcn.ws/Zz6sj8
Who is Chuck Hagel? – He’s a two-time purple heart recipient, Vietnam veteran and Nebraska native son. He’d be the first man who saw combat as an enlisted man to become Secretary of Defense. But critics are concerned he’s not strong enough in his support for Israel and fault him for opposing the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. (Chris Good & Sarah Parnass) http://abcn.ws/VKoKbu
Hagel says what he thinks: he backed McCain over Bush in 2000. His silence backed Obama over McCain in 2008. He’s that rare breed of politician who seems capable of equally aggravating powerful people on both sides of the aisle.
This was the strongest statement against him today – “Senator Hagel’s views and inflammatory statements about Israel are well outside the mainstream and raise well-founded doubts that he can be trusted to manage the special relationship the United States shares with our greatest Middle East ally.” (Eric Cantor) http://abcn.ws/ZzhXqS
Side note – serving with Obama on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was, in hindsight, a good resume builder. (Biden, Kerry, Hagel).
This reporter recalls his upbraiding of colleagues during the debate over the surge.
“If you want a safe job, go sell shoes,” he said at a senate committee hearing in one memorable moment. http://abcn.ws/Wp0nPx
Here’s how John Ullyott, a former Republican SASC spokesman and former Marine officer describes Hagel:
“He was respected as a colleague in the normal Senate tradition, but was somewhat of a Lone Wolf and did not forge the deep personal relationships with his fellow Republicans that would translate into a ready reservoir of support for his nomination. On top of that, his outspokenness and blunt criticism of several Republican priorities at a critical time, including Iraq and Iran, while sincere and heartfelt, have left him without a natural platform of enthusiasm for his confirmation.”
Blunted so far by Hagel’s nomination is what’s sure to be a vigorous debate over John Brennan and his involvement in Bush administration policy on “enhanced interrogation techniques” and his development of the Obama drone policy, too. Stay tuned to this space for more on that real soon.
Panetta’s Legacy - ABC’s Arlette Saenz reports President Obama’s decision to nominate Chuck Hagel as defense secretary marks the end of a a short but very active tenure for the current Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, a man who has held a breadth of official jobs in Washington – from Congressman to White House Chief of Staff and CIA Director – even as he split time between the nation’s capital and his family’s walnut farm in Monterey, Calif.
At the president’s press conference today announcing his replace, Panetta joked he was going back to that farm to take care of “another kind of nuts.” http://abcn.ws/ZzcUXl
Bloomberg Taking Aim at Gun Violence with Biden’s Task Force – The New York City Mayor sent some of his guys “down to Washington” to push Bloomberg’s ideas on gun laws to the VP. (Arlette Saenz) http://abcn.ws/Zz85NG
Supreme Court Returns Today With Gay Marriage, Affirmative Action, Voting Rights in View - ABC’s Ariane de Vogue reports justices are already working behind the scenes writing and reviewing draft opinions for cases they heard this fall. http://abcn.ws/Zz6FTl
Greta Van Susteren ‘On the Record’ with ABC – The Fox News host talks about conducting an interview with the President of Romania without a translation and Bo the First Dog’s fashion choices. (Kaye Foley) http://abcn.ws/Zz7GuD
The Secretary Returns – The State Department released a photo of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton back on the job today after she spent weeks sidelined by illness. To celebrate her return, colleagues gave her a standing ovation – and some football gear. (Luis Martinez & Sarah Parnass)
Oops: Ticketmaster Accidentally Sells Out Obama Inaugural Ball – Every single ticket was snatched up before they were even scheduled to go on sale, thanks to a mixup Sunday when the ticket sales company was testing its email list. (Matthew Larotonda) http://abcn.ws/TYyAaj
U.S. Spends More on Immigration than Other Criminal Enforcements – A report released today shows that dollar-for-dollar, immigration is by far the federal government’s top priority when it comes to federal criminal enforcement. Adjusted for inflation, the federal budget for immigration enforcement has grown from $1.2 billion in 1986 to $17.9 billion in 2012, with stark increases since the formation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002. Meanwhile, apprehensions at the border have fallen to levels not seen in more than 40 years. In the 2011 fiscal year, apprehensions dropped to 340,252, the lowest level since 1970. Net migration from Mexico has dropped to zero and may be going in reverse, meaning that more Mexican immigrants may be leaving the United States than are entering it. While enforcement plays a role in that decline, the migration numbers have also been affected by a sluggish U.S. economy, a growing Mexican middle class and shrinking fertility rates among Mexican women. More from Univision’s immigration editor Ted Hesson:http://abcn.ws/SgDqTf