As if mounting concerns over his controversial views on Israel weren’t enough, former Nebraska Senator and probable Obama Department of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel may now face a different area of questioning: his temperament when dealing with colleagues.
Sen Bob Corker (R-TN) alluded to this line of questioning today on ABC’s “This Week,” telling host George Stephanopoulos, “Just his overall temperament and is he suited to run a department or a big agency or a big entity like the Pentagon. I think there are numbers of staffers who are coming forth now just talking about the way he has dealt with them. I have, certainly questions, about a lot of things.”
Assuming the severity of the complaints against Hagel do not imply major scandals in his handling of particular issues, this line of inquiry alone could end up a minor Washington hiccup. However, given the noncommittal attitude of major members of the Armed Services Committee toward Hagel, it is an issue that could add to those same members’ ambivalence. Sens. John McCain and Joe Manchin especially seem unwilling to enthusiastically back Hagel, the former despite being Hagel’s former colleague, and the latter despite Hagel’s being a nominee of a friendly president:
“He’s coming in next week to speak with me,” Manchin said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I look forward to that. I have some questions I want to ask” on Israel, the Iraq War, Iran sanctions and Afghanistan policy.
“I would give every consideration to our [president] to put his staff together,” Manchin said.
“At this point would you vote against him?” CBS host Bob Schieffer asked McCain.
“No, nor would I vote for him,” McCain said. “This is why we have hearings.” He added later that he has “always believed that a president deserves the right to choose his own team, but there are significant questions.”
“My questions about him, and they will be raised in the [confirmation hearings], are, what his view of America’s role in the world?” McCain said. “Whether he really believes that the surge was the worst blunder since the Vietnam War? That clearly – that’s not correct. In fact, it’s bizarre. Why would he oppose calling the Iranian revolutionary guard a terrorist organization?”
No date has been set for Hagel’s confirmation hearings yet, though the bipartisan uneasiness about his suitability for the role of Secretary of Defense suggests they are likely to be contentious.