No sooner had rumors of Chuck Hagel's pending nomination to head up the Pentagon leaked than lips were flapping about what a bad idea it was. Hagel "is an in-your-face nomination by the president," charged Lindsey Graham, who "would be the most antagonistic secretary of defense toward the state of Israel in our nation’s history." Texas Sen. Ted Cruz blasted President Obama as "a president who has drunk the tea. He's high on re-election right now." Mitch McConnell, in an interview taped yesterday, was slightly warmer, saying, "he ought to be given a fair hearing, like any other nominee, and he will be. I’m going to wait and see how the hearings go and whether Chuck’s views square with the job he would be nominated to do.” Elsewhere on your Sunday dial, as per Politico:
- Dick Durbin on Hagel: “Chuck Hagel was a decorated veteran of the Vietnam war, a person that includes service on the Foreign Relations Committee as well as the Intelligence Committee. Yes, he is a serious candidate if the president chooses to name him.”
- Freshman Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., on Hagel: "I would vote against him. Mr. Hagel came out against the surge the week that I returned from Iraq in 2006, said the war couldn't be won. No one had told us that when we were fighting it in 2006."
- McConnell on a potential challenge from Ashley Judd: "Look, the election is going to occur in 2014. In the meantime, I'm going to focus on the issues we have going on here."