|2013-03-07T12:19:44-05:00 The Atlantic's 2nd Annual Economy Summit|
President Bill Clinton's winning catchphrase "It's the economy, stupid!" still resonates in consequential political debates today -- with both sides of the political aisle and the many factions of economic policy interest groups slugging it out over what a healthy economy needs.
This year's "Economy Summit" organized by The Atlantic features a very diverse cast of perspectives and will focus on debt and strategies for sustainable economic growth. Some will focus on economic debates -- and others will focus on paralyzed leadership.
I'll post the entire program below -- but I should note that Washington Note readers are invited to attend -- or to watch online. If you want to be there in person, be sure to RSVP at the link below The entire conference will stream live here, which means you can watch it from as far as Tazmania or Sanaa if you have a good broadband connection.
One of the interesting issues that my collaborator and former "affinity credit card" entrepreneur Richard Vague are highlighting are the problems of a massive 'private sector debt' problem that continues to lurk in the US economic equation. For those interested, Vague and I outlined some of the problems here and spoke about this in a short YouTube clip as well as on WHYY's Radio Times, a popularly NPR-affiliated program in Philadelphia.
The line-up for this year has a lot of headliners -- in fact, they are all headliners -- but those who will make a lot of the sizzle are former Federal Reserve Governor Paul Volcker, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, anti-tax pledge activist and President of the Americans for Tax Reform Grover Norquist, Fix the Debt founder Maya MacGuineas, Financial Times Chief US Commentator Edward Luce, and National Journal Chief Correspondent Michael Hirsh.
The list continues with American Prospect Founding Editor Robert Kuttner, Naked Capitalism publisher Yves Smith, former FDIC chief Sheila Bair, former Federal Reserve Board Deputy Chair Alice Rivlin, Senator and former West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, Senator and former North Dakota Governor John Hoeven, Bloomberg political columnist Margaret Carlson, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Financial Services Roundtable CEO and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, National Journal editorial director Ron Fournier, former George W. Bush National Economic Adviser Lawrence Lindsey and others.
Here follows the schedule:
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
ELIZABETH BAKER KEFFER
A Preview of the April 2013 "Money Issue" of The Atlantic
YVES SMITH (aka Susan Webber)
A HEALTHY ECONOMY EQUALS FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY & SMART INVESTMENT
THE HON. GENE SPERLING
National Economic Advisor to President Obama
Editor in Chief, The Atlantic
SHERLE R. SCHWENNINGER
THE HON. PAUL VOLCKER
THE HON. ALICE RIVLIN
THE HON. SHEILA BAIR
HERE'S THE DEAL: HOW WASHINGTON CAN SOLVE THE DEFICIT AND SPUR GROWTH
Washington Bureau Chief, New York Times
Author of the new e-book, Here's the Deal
THE HON. ROBERT RUBIN
THE HON. LAWRENCE LINDSEY
THE HON. JOHN HOEVEN (R-ND)
"Sequester at the Beach" & "Debt Old Fashioned"
With special thanks to Supporting Underwriter, the Center for Audit Quality; Presenting Underwriter, TD Bank; and Knowledge Underwriter, The Governor's Woods Foundation for their generous support of this year's Economy Summit.
|2013-02-27T22:36:15-05:00 Chuck Hagel's Door|
History and consequence will occur behind this door for the next many years.
-- Steve Clemons
|2013-02-27T10:55:29-05:00 Hagel Sworn In|
Chuck Hagel, left, is sworn into office as the 24th defense secretary by Michael L. Rhodes, the Defense Department's director of administration and management, as Hagel's wife, Lilibet, holds a Bible at the Pentagon, Feb. 27, 2013. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeleyThe Hagel nomination fight is done. It's time to move on to challenges that matter and get beyond personality politics.
That said, I think after a battle it's important to show respect to those who were on the other side.
Had the Hagel backers lost, I hope they (and I) would have found a track to be magnanimous and future-oriented.
We fought the good fight, and are proud to have done so. We salute all those -- Democrats and Republicans, Christians and Jews -- who joined with us in the effort to secure a better Secretary of Defense. We are heartened that the overwhelming majority of senators from one of the two major parties voted against confirming Mr. Hagel.While I don't agree with the framing or principal points in Kristol's note, I respect the spirit of them.
When John Bolton resigned, after his recess-appointed term as ambassador in the United Nations ended, I did my best to remind people of his considerable capabilities and his service to the nation, despite what many perceived to be deficits in his views on what American internationalism should be.
This is what the contending sides in many of our policy battles need to demonstrate; it's a good and important lesson for America's youth watching the behavior of national leaders and even pundits.
It's interesting to me that while Bolton never received a Senate vote on his appointment to serve as UN ambassador, he did have a vote when he was confirmed as under secretary of state for arms control and international security affairs. He received 43 no votes against his confirmation, not unlike the 41 nays against Hagel.
-- Steve Clemons
|2013-02-22T14:52:29-05:00 Nation's Former Top Dog Republican Shares Views on Chuck Hagel|
It's so odd to hear Senators Inhofe, Cornyn, Cruz and a small passel of other GOP Senators state that Chuck Hagel doesn't enjoy Republican support. That's simply not true. Senators Shelby, Johanns, Cochran, and probably others will vote for Hagel next Tuesday. I think end of the day Senator Lisa Murkowski may do so as well.
But the zinger is that decorated World War II veteran, former Senate Majority Leader, former GOP candidate for United States President Bob Dole has endorsed Chuck Hagel:
Chuck Hagel has spent his entire life in service to his country. He volunteered to fight in Vietnam and did so bravely, side-by-side with his brother and earning two Purple Hearts. He served as Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration for President Ronald Reagan and was President & Chief Executive Officer of the World USO.
John McCain is a national hero and hard core Republican. Bob Dole is a national hero and hard core Republican. Chuck Hagel is a national hero who fought for this country and was seriously wounded in Vietnam -- and is also a hard core Republican. The lines for what being a Republican is are moving back and forth across lines, and the struggle matters.
Senator Joe McCarthy tried to move his political fortunes forward through smears and witch-hunts. That tradition is being revitalized in some corners of the Senate today -- and a big spot light needs to be directed on these nasty campaigns and the people behind them.
Some of the Senators opposing Hagel are doing so because of principled concerns about his views or competency. That is the way this process is supposed to work. However, a handful are in the fight to beat him at any cost -- even through slander and character assassination -- and that is when the system needs to expose the indecency and lack of moral character they are demonstrating.
So, hats off to Senator, former US presidential candidate and war hero Bob Dole for saying what is right and true about Senator and soon be US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
-- Steve Clemons
|2013-02-06T12:11:33-05:00 Talking Immigration Reform with McCain, Bennet & Klobuchar|
|Thursday afternoon (tomorrow!), as a part of The Atlantic's larger "Manufacturing's Next Chapter" event, I will sit down with Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) for a series of candid discussions on immigration reform and issues related to the future face of American manufacturing and the economy more broadly.
I will talk with Senators McCain and Bennet on their involvement in the Group of Eight and perspectives on each party's endgame for immigration reform. Senator Klobuchar will end the day discussing how she plans on increasing American innovation through immigration reform.
GE, the Center for American Progress, and American Action Forum are supporting this event.
Immigration discussions will start at 4:15 pm EST at the Newseum in Washington, DC. Watch the session live here online. The entire forum starts at 9:50 am and can also be watched online live.
-- Steve Clemons
|2013-01-30T10:38:40-05:00 112 Pages of Answers from Chuck Hagel|
Tomorrow morning at 9:30 am, the US Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on former Senator Chuck Hagel's nomination by the President to be the next Secretary of Defense.
A sizable roster of policy questions were submitted to Hagel to assess his views on everything form China to Iran to nuclear weapons to thoughts on energy management and security.
Here is the pdf of Hagel's responses. Warning. It runs 112 pages long.
-- Steve Clemons
|2013-01-26T23:57:39-05:00 Politico's Matt Wuerker on Hagel Debate|
-- Steve Clemons
|2013-01-24T13:33:18-05:00 Hillary Clinton Prevails at Benghazi Hearings|
Here are some thoughts I shared with PRI's The World yesterday on Hillary Clinton's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the Benghazi disaster and death of US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and other Americans.
-- Steve Clemons
|2013-01-14T10:47:49-05:00 100 Minutes on Chuck Hagel|
Sunday morning this week on C-Span Washington Journal, I spent some quality time with former Project for a New American Century Executive Director and now AEI scholar Gary Schmitt discussing Chuck Hagel's nomination to be President Obama's Secretary of Defense. C-Span's Steve Scully anchored the discussion -- which was wide-ranging and in my view, enlightening.
The entire segment is one hour and forty minutes and includes some fascinating historical clips of speeches by and interviews with Chuck Hagel in the C-Span video library files.
Schmitt raised numerous interesting issues -- and we got to the nub of the key strategic debate about how the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars fit into America's strategic narrative. Schmitt's concerns acknowledged, he nonetheless believes Senator Hagel will be confirmed.
The show is well worth watching.
|2013-01-12T11:04:08-05:00 Blast from the Past: Elliott Abrams on John Lennon|
There is a brewing storm over Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Elliott Abrams' intemperate remarks about Senator Chuck Hagel -- arguing that the Secretary of Defense nominee must prove he is not an anti-Semite. We'll comment on that at another time.
But I just came by this really interesting passage in which Abrams slams John Lennon one week after Lennon's murder in December 1980 as quoted by Sidney Blumenthal in his book, The Rise of the Counter-Establishment: The Conservative Ascent to Political Power (pp. 161-2):
Abrams didn't think much of John Lennon -- but he clearly does think Chuck Hagel deserves a day or two of coverage.
I hope that Abrams rethinks his position and apologizes to Hagel and welcomes a genuine debate, Council on Foreign Relations-style, about their policy differences.
-- Steve Clemons
|2013-01-12T09:57:22-05:00 The Really New New Republic|
I have nearly always, mostly, with only a few exceptions really loved The New Republic over the years. Even when I wanted to rip to nano-sized shreds some articles and throw my computer out the window if reading a couple of particularly offensive essays online, I have always been impressed by the edgy wit, complex thought, and relevance of this publication.
I have a link for those of you who want to get the first edition of the relaunched TNR. I can't wait. Congratulations to the entire New Republic team.
-- Steve Clemons
|2013-01-06T13:29:40-05:00 Officials: Chuck Hagel Was a 'Gift From God' for the Israeli USO|
Almog was commander of the battle-tested Naval Commando Unit, Flotilla 13, performing more than 80 combat operations ranging from penetrating Egypt's Port Said and raids on Adabiya coastal forts to sinking Egyptian torpedo boats. He is credited with dramatic transformation of Israel's sea-based military platforms and operations, and is one of those legendary leaders from whom many Israelis still have the benefit of learning about high stakes moments in the nation's history. Ze'ev Almog has also been a friend of and corresponding with former US Senator Chuck Hagel for decades.
I tracked down the one-time naval commander-in-chief one late night by cell phone. First, I got his grandson, to whom I recounted why I wanted to speak to his grandfather. The young man responded by saying his grandfather would insist on me retelling everything again "exactly." Why was I calling? What was the purpose? What did I intend to do with my interview? Almog is cautious but forceful - and a really busy man. I called four times in one night - finally securing my interview at what was about 1 a.m. for him in Israel.
And then we talked about Chuck Hagel.
The reason I tracked down this acclaimed military leader is that he had also long been involved with the USO, which supports the well-being of US military personnel stationed around the world, and is chartered by the US government but funded entirely in the private sector. Many Americans who weren't soldiers or relatives of soldiers became aware of the USO because of the extraordinary profile that celebrity Bob Hope gave to the organization by performing for US troops during World War II, the Korean War, and more. Almog was selected in 1992 by the USO World Board of Governors to serve as the first USO President in Israel -- and he had been deeply involved with and supportive of USO activities inside Israel in the years before his assumption of the organization's presidency.
I also tracked down Gilla Gerzon, the longtime former director of the USO's operation in Haifa, Israel. Why? An article recently appeared charging Chuck Hagel, who from 1987-1990 was the president & CEO of the USO, with an obsessive anti-Jewish compulsion to close the Haifa operation. The article, "The Saga of Hagel and Haifa," written by senior writer Adam Kredo for the Washington Free Beacon, quotes some who accuse Hagel of having an anti-Semitic fervor that drove him to want to close this facility.
But after digging into this a bit -- both on the American side and Israel side of the debate -- there is ample evidence that this charge against Hagel is at best unsubstantiated by evidence and at face value completely untrue.
When Hagel took over the USO in 1987, the organization was flat on its back and near bankruptcy - and by the fall of 1989, it had more than $1.8 million in the bank, signifying a major reversal of fortunes. Hagel was compelled to shutter a number of under-performing or anachronistic USO platforms that no longer aligned with the habits and travel patterns of US military personnel. And thus when he came into office, he reviewed all of the USO facilities - including the one in Haifa - and decided to keep the Haifa operation open, expanding it in fact, while shuttering ten others in the Middle East region. Hagel's USO performance and challenges are well outlined in this segment of Charlyne Berens's book Chuck Hagel: Moving Forward.
The Free Beacon article states that the USO's then-president Chuck Hagel "led the controversial charge to shutter the port [the Haifo USO operation] during his tenure with the organization." While on one hand, Kredo acknowledges that the USO reported to him that it has no evidence or records to suggest than an effort, or "charge," was made to close Haifa U.S.O. during Hagel's term, he quotes some who recall Hagel on a Haifa-closing crusade, making comments that at least one person felt bordered on anti-Semitism. In particular, the author cites Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs senior staff member Marsha Halteman who states that in a meeting with various concerned individuals and groups, Hagel said "Let the Jews pay for it."
Halteman recounts that she confronted Hagel and told him that she "found his comments to be anti-Semitic." And the piece continues to generically cite others who believe that Hagel was hostile to Jews in general during this period.
This is all remarkable if true, so I sought out those who actually helped run and had direct supervisory authority over and proximity to the Haifa USO operation.
The collective view of Israeli voices directly involved with the USO is that the depiction of Hagel could not be more distant from their experiences and recollections.
Former Israeli Navy Commander in Chief Ze-ev Almog said that Chuck Hagel "was completely positive towards us." He said that in "my experience with the USO, I have never heard a single word that he acted to close the USO in Israel. It happened later."
Indeed, the Haifa USO port was closed in 2002 -- well after Chuck Hagel's tenure, during which Almog and others I interviewed said that Hagel and the USO Board kept Haifa open.
He said that before he was nominated as the first Israeli president of USO, Almog did not know Hagel - and then they became closely acquainted after - meeting twice during trips Hagel made to Israel. Almog continued that they have corresponded over the years, exchanging views, sharing drafts of speeches given, and the like.
Almog said that his experience with Hagel has always been "completely positive" and that he has never seen Hagel "act against Israel." He continued that while he became president of the Israel chapter of the USO after Hagel had left his position, he never heard, observed, or read anything about an effort by Hagel to close the Haifa operation - with which Almog became intimately and directly involved. He said that from his vantage point, these assertions in the recent article by Adam Kredo are groundless.
I was then interested in whether this obvious hero in Israel's military establishment had any reservations at all about Hagel's larger views about Israel:
What Almog shared by way of an interesting anecdote is that Hagel in this case avoided jumping on a media bandwagon and used his role as a United States senator to make a difference in a policy matter, forgoing personal vanity or media puffery. It's unclear how many of the other 99 US senators sent private, compelling letters to Bill Clinton on this matter, but it's easy to presume that far more signed their names passively to a media vehicle on the issue -- rather than more proactively engaging in a serious exchange with the president of the United States on the matter.
Gilla Gerzon, fondly referred to by many US soldiers and Marines as the "mother of the 6th Fleet", was director of the USO Mission in the port of Haifa for nearly 20 years and served in that capacity when Hagel was the organization's CEO. Gerzon is the first Israeli citizen to receive the U.S. Navy Commendation Medal. I tracked her down to ask her to share her recollections of Hagel and the debate surrounding whether the Haifa USO mission would remain open or close.
Clemons: I am calling to ask your recollections of Chuck Hagel's tenure as president and CEO of the USO and the discussions in the late 1980s about closing the Haifa facility you directed. Could you share your thoughts?The actual USO Director in Haifa during the late 1980s review of her facility says that Chuck Hagel's visit "was an absolute gift of God" and goes on to praise him effusively for his support. This seems to be vital material missing from the Washington Free Beacon article charging Hagel with having been on a crusade to close the facility.
On the US side, I spoke with Edward "Ned" Powell, former president & CEO of USO world headquarters who led the organization when the Haifa mission was closed. He said that he had no idea whether Chuck Hagel had sought to close the mission earlier or not. He said he had never been given any word that he had worked to do that.
But Powell said that what is often not understood -- no matter the circumstanced about Haifa at that time -- is that the USO is a completely private organization, supported by private dollars though it was congressionally chartered as an organization. Powell said that the world changes, that the location of American servicemen and women in the world has shifted from certain theaters of conflict to new ones. He said that it made no sense in 2002, after the debacle of 9/11 and the US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, to preference USO facilities in Haifa when there was a massive troop deployment on the other side of the Middle East and in South Asia.
Powell said "I closed Paris. Believe me, I would have loved to keep visiting the USO Mission in Paris, but it would have been wrong. There are no US service members there. I closed England and others as well, but I'm not anti-British."
Powell said that his and Hagel's job as CEO of the USO is to make sure that USO platforms are giving the most value for the private dollars that support them -- that the operations are "necessary and performing at a high standard." He said that when Hagel came in as USO president, the organization was in "severe financial duress." Powell said Hagel had to make tough calls. In fact, while deciding to keep the Haifo USO facility open, Hagel closed 10 other operations in the region.
While Hagel took the USO from the edge of bankruptcy to restoring its financial legs, Powell expanded the USO's operating budget from less than $40 million a year to nearly $250 million in 2008.
Current USO President and CEO Sloan Gibson wrote this to me about Chuck Hagel's tenure at the organization:
Senator Hagel has been a steadfast supporter of our troops and their families for more than three decades, well beyond his own military service. He personally brought that strong commitment to the USO as CEO and President of the USO from 1987 to 1990.The bottom line: Chuck Hagel kept the facility open and expanded it when he was restructuring and shifting priorities inside the USO to keep it alive. If Hagel had had a deep anti-Israel bias, others would have seen it and reported it -- and the near bankruptcy of the organization as a whole would have given him more than enough cover to close the place if he felt that was needed, or what he personally desired.
A few years ago, I visited Hamburg, Germany as the guest of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and its International Political Dialogue Director Claus Gramckow. As we drove by a building in the now very wealthy city, he lamented the closing years before of what he called "America House," a US-government supported facility that hosted events, a library, and resource center for Germans interested in knowing more about America.
Gramckow said that we have to acknowledge that the world changes, that today that kind of center needs to shift to Kabul and Baghdad. But still, some will lament and feel like a lesser priority when institutions like this close. The same logic applies to America's USO operations -- loved or not -- in the parts of the world they are located.
-- Steve Clemons is Washington Editor at Large at The Atlantic, where this post first appeared. Clemons is also editor at large of Quartz, a new global financial publication, and can be followed on Twitter at @SCClemons
|2012-12-28T17:01:56-05:00 Reading Tea Leaves of Political Appointments Not Yet Made|
Something rare just happened. Rather than me having to dog various of the media handlers or key policy hands at the National Security Council or White House on whether Chuck Hagel is on or off the SecDef list, I just got a phone call from a senior Executive Branch person in the know who said something along the lines that the media are hyperventilating this thing into the wrong direction and that the process of considering nominees is proceeding in a way completely different than the media are telling it. This person said Hagel is very much on the list.
I asked if Hagel had the edge in the process -- and got nothing more than the above. I was told that there were concerns about "stature" and "command capabilities" of the other publicly mentioned possibilities.
But let's be blunt about something. I can't offer my source's name though can attest to the individual's proximity to some of the nominee discussions. Am I being spun? Perhaps. The fact is that I did not solicit this particular call and this person has never tilted me wrong before. If Ashton Carter, Jack Reed, Colin Powell, or Michele Flournoy end up standing next to the president introduced as his next SecDef nominee, is the information I just received wrong? Not necessarily. This is a process where shadows and nuance are the rule.
What has happened in this mess of leaked potential nominees to jobs is that the political advisers around the president are able to take the temperature of various institutions' love or hate of their candidates. I mention institutions rather that citizens because this is entirely an inside-the-Beltway sport. How much will Bill Kristol, the Republican Jewish Coalition and others put into the kitty to fight Hagel? How much is the president willing to invest -- even before a potential nomination reaches the kicking the tires phase?
It's fascinating to watch -- even if the anguish of pundits and media do reach the flamboyance of a Quentin Tarantino movie. The not-yet-nominated candidate for a position, in cases like Susan Rice and Chuck Hagel, are also barred by instruction and convention from defending themselves or saying much in public. This reminds me of a hilarious, anonymously written item run by The Washington Note titled, "To All Those Waiting for the Obama Team Phone Call." The writer eventually did get quite a cool political appointment in the Obama administration -- and survived the torturous process.
But what is weird about this process is that it starts with a couple of leaks and good journalism -- in the Hagel case with The Cable's Josh Rogin breaking the news that Chuck Hagel was being vetted for some job. And then on December 13th, Bloomberg's Hans Nichols broke the news that Hagel was President Obama's lead candidate for SecDef.
Then the neoconservative machinery cranked up -- with blasts from Bill Kristol with some key assists from Senators Lindsey Graham and Charles Schumer. Hagel's terrible commentary 14 years ago about the then-nomination process of out and proud James Hormel as America's first gay ambassador popped up to generate a wave of concern in the progressive community, most particularly from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. Hagel apologized for those remarks. Hormel graciously and emphatically embraced Hagel's apology -- and I wrote what I know and shared what I had written years ago about Hagel's pro-LGBT rights stand.
The Hagel nomination's seeming complexity -- hyped up by leading advocates of policies that "help Israel so much that it hurts," a term once shared with me by Ambassador and then Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy Spokesman Gideon Meir about some the activities of diaspora support groups like AIPAC -- then began to lead political pundits to declare the Hagel nomination "toast", as Politico's Mike Allen did. U.S.-Israel negotiator Aaron David Miller arguing Hagel should not be toast. Others like MSNBC's Chris Matthews have said that the Hagel bubble has popped.
Then Tom Friedman put wind in the sails of the Hagel nomination by saying that he deserved to run the Department of Defense and the President should choose him. Friedman writes for the world -- but also has a strong readership among the same people who vote for Chuck Schumer -- and the Schumer-Tom Friedman divide is key here. Ultimately, Friedman beats Schumer as his constituency is larger, and Friedman has more impact on the perception of Obama's successes and victories. Senator Schumer will ultimately agree to disagree with a Presidential pick of Hagel and deal well with the White House on other fronts. And even then, as Chuck Hagel voted for John Bolton at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, it's not so hard to imagine Schumer ultimately voting in favor of Hagel.
National Journal's Michael Hirsh read the tea leaves in a comment he got from the White House and reported that the Obama team was going wobbly on Hagel because of the line, "we are considering other candidates." To my friend and colleague Hirsh this sounded like a comment he had received during the Susan Rice imbroglio in which an official had planted with him something along the lines that "the President was vexed between Susan Rice and John Kerry for the Secretary of State position." To Hirsh, this seemed like a signal to Rice that the President wanted her to stand down.
The bottom line is that for those, even myself, who have argued that Hagel's nomination was still kicking, or withering, assumptions are being made about what would seem logical, what would a president faced with a neocon onslaught, lack of unanimity in the Senate, and the potential for yet another fight with the GOP (well, mostly the GOP) do when the Obama team may have thought this would be a smoother ride.
So, many are now thinking that of the two other leading candidates, Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Michele Flournoy, who served as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and is the former president of the Center for a New American Security, Flournoy will get the nod.
I listened to MSNBC commentator Krystal Ball chat with show anchor Karen Finney say that it would be awesome to have Flournoy because she was a mom and had kids -- and this would be a great signal to the country to have a woman in that key position. One part of me agrees that the appointment of Flournoy would break another glass ceiling for women, but there will be questions about both of these candidate's capabilities and perspectives as well that have not been scrutinized.
What are their views on Iran? Should we have bombed yesterday? On the Bob Gates view that anyone who would commit U.S. forces to large ground wars and occupations should have his or her head examined? On the privatization of the U.S. military so that despite spending gobs more money, the number of military personnel in uniform has declined while the contractor surge has grown unabated? How does one restructure the military in an age of budget austerity? Don Rumsfeld thought through some of this in his pre-9/11 tenure. What are their views?
Senator Jack Reed and former secretary of State Colin Powell have both been mentioned as well -- but both seem equally, personally committed to keeping their names off the list of likely choices.
What I heard from my executive branch source made a lot of sense to me today. That many in the punditocracy and D.C.'s strategic class are hyperventilating about these candidates and what we think Obama will do and won't do with scant evidence or commentary from the president or his team. The fact is that the White House has been highly cryptic at best about who is on the list and how they are proceeding.
If the White House does not go with Hagel, the Obama team has a problem as they will be appearing to reject a two-time Purple Heart recipient who was nearly a candidate for president of the United States, who served as a sergeant in Vietnam, and who believes that the Pentagon must be reshaped and remodeled to deliver security to the American public on leaner budgets. Hagel is a defense cuts guy -- and the person in this job will be spending 90 percent of his time not dealing with Israelis or other governments but wrestling with generals about how to rebalance America's national security priorities from low-return wars in the Middle East and South Asia to higher-return concerns in Asia. And they'd be conceding to a lot of folks whom the president just wiped the floor with in the last election.
Michael Hirsh has also raised the obvious but neglected point that Hagel is one who got the wars right -- in that they were bad wars -- and broke ranks with his party and pal John McCain in favor of the broader American national interest. Hirsh says he should not be punished for that -- but should be rewarded.
So, if the source I spoke to is right and the media discussion has distorted what is fantasy and fact and is now quite distant from what the real process is with President Obama and Chuck Hagel, all the better.
We are still reading tea leaves in this appointment process -- which should be more transparent, managed in the halls of Congress in a legally scripted process, and less of a nightmare for the potential nominee.
-- Steve Clemons is Washington Editor at Large at The Atlantic, where this post first appeared. Clemons can be followed on Twitter at @SCClemons
|2012-12-27T10:07:03-05:00 Khalilzad: Hagel a Courageous Patriot Who Deserves SecDef Consideration|
Former George W. Bush administration US Ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan and the United Nations -- as well as former National Security Council Senior Director for Southwest Asia, Near East, and North African Affairs -- Zalmay Khalilzad shared with me some thoughts on the possible nomination of Senator Chuck Hagel to serve as President Obama's Secretary of Defense.
-- Steve Clemons is Washington Editor at Large at The Atlantic, where this post first appeared. Clemons can be followed on Twitter at @SCClemons
|2012-12-26T13:45:18-05:00 Media Alert: Talking All Things Chuck Hagel at 5:10 pm EST on MSNBC Hardball|
For those glued to news on Boxing Day, I'll be joining TIME International Editor Jim Frederick to discuss the "borking" of various White House potential nominees on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews.
For those interested, here are two Washington Roundup pieces of those for and against Hagel's potential nomination as Obama's Secretary of Defense: first & second. Here too is an interesting response to questions I posed to military writer and analyst Tom Ricks.
Those included in the roundups beyond Tom Ricks are Leslie Gelb, David Frum, Ambassador James Hormel, Hattie Babbitt, Robert Dreyfuss, Bing West, Adam Garfinkle, Ari Melber, Senator Charles Schumer, David Rothkopf, Dan Glickman, Stephen Walt, Paul Pillar, Thomas Fingar, David Boaz, and Jeffrey Laurenti.
Here as well is a piece I have also written on Hagel's views about gays and lesbians serving in the military -- as well as another highlighting two Democratic and two Republican national security advisers defending Hagel from the smear campaign run against him.
The time is scheduled for about 5:10 pm EST.
-- Steve Clemons
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|This text was first published in Toward Freedom, December 1981 The American movement to break a rapidly developing alliance between South Africa and the United States was launched in October, 1981 at an historic conference in New York. Just days…|
|Sat, 07 Dec 2013 18:48:08 +0000 Why Saudi-Israeli Team Hates Iran Deal|
|The Saudi-Israeli alliance opposes a diplomatic settlement with Iran over its nuclear program because the deal could kill hopes for enlisting the U.S. military in one more violent regime change in the Middle East, as the Independent Institute’s Ivan Eland explains. By Ivan Eland Why are Israel, Saudi Arabia, and their congressional allies in both American…|
|Tue, 26 Nov 2013 13:52:00 +0400 Insight: A new wave of U.S. mortgage trouble threatens|
|U.S. borrowers are increasingly missing payments on home equity lines of credit they took out during the housing bubble, a trend that could deal another blow to the countrys biggest banks.|
|Sun, 08 Dec 2013 00:08:00 +0400 Main News of December 7|
|A roundup of what has happened in the past 24 hours|