It should surprise no one that Republicans in Congress are going to complain about any of the choices President Obama makes to replace outgoing members of his Cabinet. That said, one of the names that's raised the biggest outcry so far is former U.S. Senator from Nebraska, Chuck Hagel.
While there have been those who've compalined about perceived problems with Hagel's position on Israel, Iran, and the Middle East, as well as Hagel's long-ago anti-gay comments about Ambassador James Hormel back in 1997, both complaints are really non-issues. The Israeli-allied AIPAC has backed off its criticism of Hagel, and Ambassador Hormel has openly accepted Hagel's apology for his anti-gay remarks. Experienced journalists like Michael Tomasky are already confident that Sen. Hagel will become the next Secretary of Defense.
Hagel isn't just a heavily decorated Vietnam veteran - though Hagel's experience with war, as an infantryman in Vietnam obviously colored his view of war. His positions on the Iraq War as a U.S. Senator - first to support it, and then later to call out its recklessness and unnecessary, bloated spending - made him a pariah in the face of his own war-happy party during the later years of the Iraq War.
That willingness to stand up to members of his own party is one reason President Obama likes Sen. Hagel so much.
Another is that Hagel deeply understands America's staggering defense budget.
As Hagel told the Financial Times in 2011, the U.S. military budget is "in many ways bloated" and that America must cut it down if we're going to be fiscally responsible.
And that, as Slate's Fred Kaplan wrote, is the real reason Republicans hate Chuck Hagel these days.
Multiple other journalists from Jamelle Bouie to friend of the show David Sirota have all confirmed, it's Hagel's true fiscal conservatism - and his willingness to cut the insanely bloated U.S. military spending budget − that President Obama is truly looking at in appointing Hagel to the Defense post.
Chuck Hagel may be a Republican, but he seems to understand, America's biggest spending problem today is in the military budget.