Fresh off his vacation in Hawaii, President Obama formally nominated Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, today. Choosing Hagel has not been without political opposition, but the president noted him as “the leader that our troops deserve.”
Hagel—a former Republican senator from Nebraska— has yet to be confirmed in the Senate, and despite praise from the commander in chief, he faces a hefty bi-partisan battle given his seemingly controversial statements. Among the comments that have politicians up in arms include Hagel calling U.S. supporters of Israel “the Jewish lobby.”
During today’s announcement, made in the East Room of the White House, the POTUS also tapped counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan as CIA director, replacing David Petraeus who stepped down after his affair with a female writer was made public. Obama went on to express a desire for the Senate to move forward in agreeing with his decision. “I hope that the Senate will act on these confirmations promptly,” he said. “When it comes to national security, we don’t like to leave a lot of gaps between the time that one set of leaders transitions out and another transitions in. So we need to get moving quickly on this.”
But others aren’t so excited.
“This is an in your face nomination by the president to all of us who are supportive of Israel,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham R-S.C. “I don’t know what his management experience is regarding the Pentagon—little, if any, so I think it’s an incredibly controversial choice.”
Back in 2003, Hagel was vocal about disagreeing with the Iraq war. He’s also been protested by gay rights for calling former President Bill Clinton’s nominee for U.S Ambassador to Luxembourg, James Hormel “openly, aggressively gay.”
With his inauguration weeks away, Obama has been busy nominating people to fill vacant positions. Last month he nominated Sen. John Kerry as Secretary of State, replacing Hillary Clinton when her tenure ends.