John Podhoretz describes in excruciating detail just how badly Chuck Hagel did at his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense.
So Hagel corrected himself, kind of: "I was just handed a note that I misspoke -- that I said I supported the president's position on containment. If I said that, I meant to say that we don't have a position on containment." Whatever that means.
Later he said he was sorry he'd called the Iranian government elected and legitimate; rather, he should have said it was recognized.
"I don't understand Iranian politics," Hagel said -- which would be understandable if, say, Khloe Kardashian were testifying. But Hagel is going to be a key official determining US policy toward Iran, and one would hope he'd bring a bit of pre-existing knowledge to the table. ...
"There are a lot of things I don't know about," Hagel said, when it came to America's defenses. "If confirmed, I intend to know a lot more than I do."
But why should he bother? After all, he said in perhaps the most head-shaking comment of the day, "It doesn't matter what I think."
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) begged to differ: "It matters what you think," she found herself saying in response.
Or maybe this was the most head-shaking comment: Defense secretary is "not a policymaking position," and because he has to work in consultation with others and in service to the president, he won't be "running anything."
Senators generally make terrible administrators. There are exceptions, but not many. The kind of skills and talents that make for even a great Senator (like who?) are very different from those that make a great executive. Senators don't run anything. Most of them are in charge of staffs that run into the dozens at most. They don't have to be experts on anything much less operate a bureaucracy, they just have to say "yes" or "no" when staffers and lobbyists tell them to.
I'd be happy to have a Constitutional amendment that bars Senators from the Presidency and cabinet-level positions.