Hagel Just the Latest to Clash with White House

The Wall Street Journal explained the “tumultuous relationship” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had with the White House and suggests it led to his ouster.

“Mr. Hagel complained about the slow pace of decision-making and clashed privately with White House national security officials over strategies in Ukraine and Syria, U.S. officials have said. In turn, Mr. Hagel’s predecessors, Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, leveled harsh criticisms at President Obama in their memoirs and accused him of micromanaging the Pentagon.”

NBC News: “Two of Hagel’s predecessors recently described their own frustrations with the Obama administration over military decision making, decrying national security aides for ‘micromanaging’ decisions.”

New York Times: “By forcing out Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, President Obama has severed the obvious weak link from a national security team that has struggled to keep ahead of crises. But his very limited shakeup does not address deeper doubts about the team’s capacity to deal with problems from the Islamic State to the Ebola outbreak.”

The Inside Story of Chuck Hagel’s Dismissal

“Hagel’s resignation was decided last Thursday night, a Pentagon official tells The Daily Beast. The news only got out to a few people in the building, who described the next day at work as exceptionally awkward. Many Pentagon officials were surprised to learn Monday from a New York Times report that their boss was leaving. (An earlier announcement would have been impractical, as Obama had his plate full rolling out his controversial plan to begin overhauling the immigration system.)”

“So it was that a duty-bound Hagel, a man who had honorably served in the Vietnam War and still carries shrapnel in his chest from that conflict, was fired Monday morning on live television alongside President Obama and a clearly displeased Vice President Joe Biden.”

Latino Voters Overwhelmingly Back Obama Action

A new Latino Decisions poll finds 89% of Latino voters support President Obama’s decision to give temporary legal status to nearly five million undocumented immigrants.

Also interesting: 85% of independents and 76% of Latinos who identify as Republicans support Obama’s move.

Said pollster Matt Barreto: “This is the most unified we have seen Latino public opinion on any issue… The White House was smart to put this step to protect parents — almost nobody in the Latino community is going to say they don’t support a policy to keep parents and children together.”

Wonk Wire: Obama immigration order: A humane act or a regulatory bomb?

By opposing President Obama, the GOP has dug itself an even deeper hole with Latino voters.

Remembering Marion Barry

David Remnick on the late Washington, DC Mayor Marion Barry:

“Give him this: Marion Barry was the most vivid local politician in the history of the District of Columbia. Like Earl and Huey Long, of Louisiana, he was a kaleidoscopically strange and contradictory political beast: a man of civil rights, a man of fallen character, a cunning operator, an arrogant hack, a builder, an underminer, a spokesman for the dispossessed, a bullsh!% artist.”

Jeff Smith notes that other than “I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” Barry contributed perhaps the most memorable quote to the political scandal lexicon when he realized that his ex-girlfriend had videotaped him smoking crack cocaine: “I’ll be goddamned. Bitch set me up.”

Ready for Hillary, But Why?

Ryan Lizza: “It was an odd event: reporters asked questions about Hillary Clinton’s plans and policy agenda to a group of people who knew as little as anyone about her presumptive campaign and its messaging. In that sense, the Ready for Hillary meeting was the perfect embodiment of the Democrats’ current Hillary problem: everyone in the party seems to be supporting her, and yet nobody can articulate exactly why.”

“The meeting came at the end of an eventful week—one that only underscored Clinton’s continued reluctance to explain what she might want to do as President. In Congress, the Senate debated two major issues: the Keystone XL pipeline and reform of the National Security Agency. Clinton remained silent about both.”

Democrats Buried in West Virginia

“Election night was bad for Democrats all over the country, but arguably there were few states where it was worse for their future — and better for Republicans — than in West Virginia,” the New York Times reports.

“Democrats in the state, long accustomed to controlling virtually every part of the government, lost a Senate race and two competitive House races. They secured a majority in the state legislature’s lower house for the first time in eight decades, and after a postelection party switch gave up control of the state Senate as well. Come January, Republicans will hold all of West Virginia’s congressional House seats for the first time since 1921. They even elected the nation’s youngest legislator, 18-year-old Saira Blair, to the state house.”

Why Republicans Are Losing the Immigration Fight

First Read: “There are two reasons why Republicans aren’t winning the political fight over President Obama’s executive action on immigration. One: The GOP remains divided in how to respond (beyond decrying the action Obama took on Thursday). Two: It ceded the political high ground when House Republicans refused to consider any immigration bill that dealt with border enforcement and the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.”

Over the weekend, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said, “I think we ought to put legislation on the president’s desk. That ought to be the response.” And Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “Shame on us as Republicans. Shame on us as Republicans for having a body that cannot generate a solution to an issue that it’s national security, that’s cultural and it’s economic… I’m disappointed in my party.”

“As long as there are these kinds of quotes from Republicans, the GOP isn’t going to win this fight, even if the public doesn’t like the process Obama used here.”

Kirk Warns Duckworth Not to Challenge Him

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) says Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) “has a bright future ahead of her” — as long as she doesn’t get in his way in 2016, The Hill reports.

Said Kirk: “She has a very bright future ahead of her. After only one term … you know, when you run for the Senate, you have to give up your congressional seat. If she gives up her congressional seat and loses against me, that’s a very sad ending to a bright career.”

He added: “To fight and lose a Senate race against Kirk is a terrible start to a career.”

It’s touching that Kirk is so concerned for Duckworth’s career.

Shortlist to Replace Chuck Hagel

The New York Times says the shortlist to replace Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel includes Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Michele Flournoy, a former under secretary of defense, and Ashton Carter, a former deputy secretary of defense.

Roll Call says that confirmation of Reed “would presumably be a foregone conclusion.”

Of course, Reed has turned down the job before. Perhaps the thought of being in the Senate minority will help change his mind.

Hagel Stepping Down as Defense Secretary

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “is stepping down under pressure, the first cabinet-level casualty of the collapse of President Obama’s Democratic majority in the Senate and a beleaguered national security team that has struggled to stay ahead of an onslaught of global crises,” the New York Times reports.

“The president, who is expected to announce Mr. Hagel’s resignation in a Rose Garden appearance on Monday, made the decision to ask his defense secretary — the sole Republican on his national security team — to step down last Friday after a series of meetings over the past two weeks… The officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ.”

One administration official “insisted that Mr. Hagel was not fired, saying that he initiated discussions about his future two weeks ago with the president, and that the two men mutually agreed that it was time for him to leave.”

However, senior defense officials confirmed to NBC News that Hagel was forced to resign. Said one: “He wasn’t up to the job.”

Obama’s relationship with all three of his defense secretaries – Gates, Panetta and Hagel – has ended badly.

Paul Will Introduce War Resolution

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) will introduce a measure in the U.S. Senate next month to declare war on the Islamic State, the Daily Beast reports.

“The move is part of Paul’s ongoing campaign to position himself as a foreign-policy heavyweight ahead of the Republican presidential primaries, when he is expected to mount a campaign for the nomination. But it may simply be dismissed as a tit-for-tat gesture as Republicans complain of executive overreach in the aftermath of President Obama’s executive order on immigration.”

A very clever move that helps quell doubts about Paul’s desire to use the military abroad while at the same time reasserting congressional authority.

GOP Hopefuls Avoid Specifics in Response to Obama

“The rhetoric is barbed, but Republican presidential hopefuls generally fell in line behind the voices of restraint in the wake of President Obama’s order blocking deportation for millions of immigrants in the country unlawfully,” the AP reports.

“Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has been an exception. He said the new Republican-controlled Senate that takes office in January should refuse to confirm any of Obama’s nominees except for vital national security positions as long as the president’s order remains in effect.”

Of course, they’re mostly avoiding specifics because Republican voters are divided on immigration reform.