Michael Barone: Obama lurches left with pick of Hagel for Defense

BY MICHAEL BARONE Published: January 12, 2013
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Confirmation of Hagel will be taken by the Iranian regime as an indication that the United States will do nothing to stop it from obtaining the nuclear capacity that Israel understandably regards as a threat to its existence.

So it's not surprising that the Washington Post editorial page, which supported Obama's re-election, stated that Hagel “is not the right choice for defense secretary.”

Obama's decision to nominate him anyway suggests a leftward lurch on policy for which voters were given no advance notice.

It's not surprising that most Republican senators seem likely to vote against this Republican nominee — and that most Democratic senators are avoiding making any commitment. Even the voluble Chuck Schumer is keeping quiet.

Unable or unwilling

Democrats are keeping quiet too about Obama's insistence that “we don't have a spending problem.” For three years, Senate Democrats have refused to pass a budget resolution while government spending as a percentage of gross domestic product continues at the highest level — 24 to 25 percent — since World War II.

Obama was unable or unwilling to negotiate a grand bargain with Boehner in the summer of 2011 and again last month, and insists he won't cut spending in return for an increase in the debt ceiling next month.

“I'm getting tired of hearing you say that,” he responded at Boehner's insistence on doing something about spending. So the dealmaking to avoid the fiscal cliff was left to Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Obama has sometimes talked of reforming entitlement programs. But his unwillingness to address spending looks like another unannounced lurch to the left.

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