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The GOP Reaction to the Chuck Nagel Nomination

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(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between US President Barack Obama (L) and Chuck Hagel. Obama will reportedly nominate former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary replacing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. ***LEFT IMAGE*** WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 28: U.S. President Barack Obama said he was 'modestly optimistic' while making a statement on fiscal cliff negotiations following a meeting with Congressional leaders at the White House December 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. Obama and members of Congress continue to seek a solution to avert the possibility of large tax increases combined with deep spending cuts also known as the 'fiscal cliff'. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) ***RIGHT IMAGE*** OMAHA, NE- MARCH 12: U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) speaks at the University of Nebraska-Omaha March 12, 2007 in Omaha, Nebraska. Hagel announced that he will postpone making a decision on whether to seek the Republican nomination for president until later this year. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between US President Barack Obama (L) and Chuck Hagel. Obama will reportedly nominate former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary replacing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. ***LEFT IMAGE*** WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 28: U.S. President Barack Obama said he was ‘modestly optimistic’ while making a statement on fiscal cliff negotiations following a meeting with Congressional leaders at the White House December 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. Obama and members of Congress continue to seek a solution to avert the possibility of large tax increases combined with deep spending cuts also known as the ‘fiscal cliff’. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) ***RIGHT IMAGE*** OMAHA, NE- MARCH 12: U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) speaks at the University of Nebraska-Omaha March 12, 2007 in Omaha, Nebraska. Hagel announced that he will postpone making a decision on whether to seek the Republican nomination for president until later this year. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

Even though President Obama has not yet made it official, many believe he will nominate Former Republican Senator from Nebraska, Chuck Nagel, as his next Secretary of Defense.

Usually, the reaction from Republican Senators to the potential nomination of a fellow Republican who served in Vietnam and received a Purple Heart would be overwhelmingly positive.

But as we have come to expect from Congress over the last few years, few things go as predicted.

Many of Nagel’s former Senate colleagues from his own party are now fairly critical of past comments from then Senator Nagel and are predicting a fierce nomination fight.

While it is certainly justified for Republican Senators to be critical of a fellow Republican, it is unrealistic for them to expect that some paragon of conservative viewpoints will be nominated in his place if Nagel’s nomination fails.

It’s almost as if Nagel’s GOP critics would prefer to be dealing with a Democrat that is lock step against every issue Republicans stand for.

I can almost hear some conservative readers thinking out loud right now that the President has that nominee already in Nagel. However, the fact of the matter is that Nagel is a two term Senator from Nebraska. That state is not known for electing soft and moderate Republicans.

Also, having a military veteran who believes that the military budget can be cut isn’t that uncommon among Republicans. In fact, Colorado’s own Rep. Mike Coffman, a veteran himself, went out on a limb and suggested that the military budget could be cut in 2012.

Thinking that the military budget might actually be able to be trimmed isn’t the only belief that is getting Nagel negative attention.

Past comments about the influence of the pro-Israel lobby, the Iraq war and Iran have also become focal points for some GOP criticism of Nagel.

Again, while criticism of these viewpoints is fair, it should not be under the perception that Nagel would be the one to make the final decisions on any of those issues.

Even though the President looks to the Secretary of Defense and his Joint Chiefs of Staff for guidance, any decision about how to address those issues will rest solely with the President. And GOP senators are not going to get a nominee for the Secretary of Defense from President Obama that disagrees with him on many critical points.

Again, it appears to me that GOP senators would prefer to see a nominee that is a true blue Democrat rather than see President Obama have Republican Chuck Nagel in his cabinet. Even though some GOP senators have commented that they don’t feel the President should get credit for being bipartisan, those same senators forget that now that he’s been re-elected, Obama doesn’t need credit for being bipartisan. Any claims of bipartisanship will not help Obama win any more terms.

In the end, I think that many Republican senators are forgetting the value of having a Republican voice on the President’s cabinet because the particular Republican voice in question isn’t “Republican enough”.

This same sentiment is forcing moderate Republicans to disappear from the GOP ranks in Congress. It seems nowadays, to be an accepted Republican in Congress you not only need to be a member, but must never waver from any part of the GOP platform. If you do, you are worse than a Democrat in some GOP eyes.

Maybe Chuck Nagel isn’t the right pick for Secretary of Defense. However, GOP senators should determine that based on his ability to serve in the role, not on his “Republican” pedigree.

Vietnam vets with Purple Hearts and 12 years of Congressional experience do not come around everyday. He deserves a fair opportunity from his former colleagues.
About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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