It's actually... pretty simple: Chuck Hagel is a bit of a schlemiel. I'm not actually trying to reference Hagel's Jewish problem*, here: it's just that Yiddish has an excellent word to describe a sad-sack bungler, and English wants the useful words. It wants all the useful words.
...Anyway, Hagel is a schlemiel. Now, I know what people are thinking: they're thinking "But... but... but being a schlemiel has NEVER been a barrier to acquiring a Cabinet post!" And they would be correct. We - read, both parties - have traditionally taken the opportunity given to us by the Cabinet to store inconvenient, superfluous, and/or ineffectual politicians for a while until they can be safely retired**. This is, in fact, a time-honored tradition. The problem here, though, isthat we typically do not nominate schlemiels for Secretary of Defense; a quick review of the list of them reveals a group of sharp-tongued, tough-minded, and generally strong-willed men who would have gone through Thursday's Armed Services Committee hearings like a hot knife through soft butter.
And that's why even the Democrats are blinking at Thursday's performance: they assumed, like everybody else, that Barack Obama cared enough about this position to assign it to somebody who was prepared and even eager to swing back. But Obama... doesn't. I guarantee that the President is much more concerned about who to get for what he considers to be the important Cabinet posts, like Labor and Energy. And President Obama probably doesn't even see what the fuss is about: so what if Chuck Hagel's a schlemiel? I mean, what's the worst that could happen?
...Don't answer that. I debated whether or not to tempt fate by even typing out that question.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*To the extent that he has one; at this point, the exact nature of Chuck Hagel's attitudes towards Jews has been thoroughly obscured by now, and largely by... Chuck Hagel.
**Which reminds me: congratulations on your confirmation, Secretary Kerry.