The Corner

Caligula’s Horse

Chuck Hagel easily proved himself unfit to be secretary of defense during his nomination hearing. Not only was he ignorant of fundamental aspects of the job, but his positions on some of the critical defense issues of the day are preposterous if not dangerous. No one disputes that his performance at the hearing was the worst and most embarrassing of any nominee for any prominent position in memory.

Yet by all reports he will be our next secretary of defense.


The explanation heard most frequently from senators and pundits alike is a robotic “the president is entitled to his nominee unless there’s some special circumstance.” If this isn’t such a circumstance, what is? How unqualified for a position must someone be before the confirmation process is no longer a rubber stamp?

This nomination, to a position that’s not exactly inconsequential, is an insult. Confirmation of a man so demonstrably unfit for this office is an insult.

This is what the political class thinks of us, that we will accept mediocrity as our due and not complain or even question.

The president should be asked why he couldn’t find anyone better. Senators should be asked whether the traditions of the Senate are more important than the nation’s defense. Unfortunately, they won’t be asked and, if asked, they won’t answer. They’ve got to move on to the latest “crisis” they’ve manufactured. And the press corps is too busy keeping score to tackle substance.

Just because they’re laughing in Tehran, Pyongyang, Moscow, and some hovel in Mali doesn’t mean this nomination is funny.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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