As I mentioned earlier, I would have liked to have seen Leon Panetta stay on for longer because I have such high-regard for his abilities but I think Chuck Hagel is a solid choice and I’ve always liked him.
There are several reasons why I think the President decided to go with Hagel. First and foremost, Hagel’s a Republican and it’s always a good move to have some bipartisan representation in the Cabinet. Plus, Obama’s always had a good relationship with Hagel dating back to their time in the Senate. If you remember, there were rumors that Obama might consider naming Hagel as his Vice President back in 2008. That gives us a good idea of what they think about each other. Hagel’s tough and he will be able to command respect in the position. As I also mentioned earlier, I think the Obama/Biden/Kerry/Hagel combination shows that the President is aiming for a strong Cabinet in order to make some big moves in his second term. With those four leading the way, we not only have some heavy-hitters but we also have a group of guys with extensive experience and important relationships in the Senate who might be able to do some things that a Flournoy or a Susan Rice would have a more difficult time getting done. I mean, Biden himself has shepherded some of the Obama Administration’s most important legislation through the Senate, so imagine what he’ll be able to on during negotiations on the Hill if he has Kerry and Hagel as his wingmen.