Supporting someone for their dreamy blue eyes is clearly not a professional or plausible reason for me to love the Hagel nomination for Secretary of Defense. So, I decided to get a little serious and jot down some thoughts on why I am excited to see a Nebraskan nominated for a cabinet level position.
Senator Hagel joins the list of politicians from our state that embody independent thinking. Everyone from George Norris, Ben Nelson, Bob Kerrey, Norbert Tiemann and Jim Exxon (dare we add Jeff Fortenberry) all put people before party.
Anyone that visits high school classrooms and talks about civics as his version of the “listening tour” that so many politicians go through had me at the classroom door.
Several journalists and fellow advocates took to the internet to explain why they love or hate the Hagel nomination.
Don Walton with the Lincoln Journal Star did a great profile of Hagel including a lengthy interview on the distortions making their way around the political news circuit. If you need a primer on Hagel (or want to see pics of Hagel back in the day), Walton’s piece is a must read.
Rick Jacobs, with the Courage Campaign, recalls seeing Chuck Hagel write handwritten thank you notes and having long conversations about international issues including the Iraq war. Rick is a leader in the progressive advocacy community. Like many of us, Rick sees Hagel learning and evolving in his ideas about gay and lesbians. Hagel admits when he is wrong and learns from each of those experiences.
Climate is an issue we are following closely at Bold with the TransCanada tarsands pipeline. While Hagel clearly has a mixed history with working on climate change, the good clearly outweighs the bad as Lisa Hymas describes in her article on Grist. Hagel has an opportunity to continue the use of clean energy throughout the military operations. Lisa suggests Hagel could in fact turn out to be a climate hawk, a leader in tackling the real issue of global warming. We agree.
On a personal note, I saw Hagel interact with Nebraskans at a book signing and a health care event. He remembers peoples’ names. Looks folks in the eye and genuinely has a good time with citizens. He is remembered fondly by my husband Scott for the letter Hagel wrote when he was running for office. These two small personal stories about our interaction with Hagel can be told by Nebraskans young and old.
Hagel cares about people, not his party. He served our country in the Vietnam war telling his biographer later in life, “If I ever get out, if I ever can influence anything, I will do all I can to prevent war.” That is why he will be a transformational Secretary of Defense. And that is exactly why Obama needs Hagel in his cabinet and we as a nation need the Senate to confirm his nomination.