A senator who once served with Chuck Hagel on the Foreign Relations Committee said the nominee for secretary of Defense doesn’t just have problems with controversial policy positions, but with his temperament.
“I think like a lot of people, the hearings are going to have a huge effect on me. I know I talked to Chuck this week. He’s coming in to see me next week,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said on ABC’s This Week. “But I think the hearings, this is going to be a real hearing process, unlike many of the people who end up being confirmed or not confirmed.”
Corker has expressed concerns about Hagel’s stance on modernization of the nuclear arsenal — in particular, how the administration has failed to meet the promises attached to the ratification of the new START treaty, which Corker supported — and echoed concerns expressed by others about his positions on Iran and Israel.
But he predicted that another issue to arise in the confirmation hearings will be “just his overall temperament, and is he suited to run a department or a big agency or a big entity like the Pentagon.”
“I think there are numbers of staffers who are coming forth now just talking about the way he has dealt with them. I have certainly questions about a lot of things. I begin all of these confirmation processes with an open mind. I did have a good relationship with him,” Corker said.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) countered that Hagel is just a straight shooter with fidelity to President Obama.
“One of the things interesting about this issue of temperament there, I know there’s a close relationship between the president and Chuck Hagel. I’ve traveled with them,” Reed said. “I understand it, but I also understand that Chuck has the wherewithal and the ability to speak truth to power. He’s demonstrated that throughout his entire career. That is a value that is extraordinarily important to the president, and I think he recognizes that, and I think that will be one of his virtues of secretary of defense.”
Hagel’s quick and fiery temper reportedly led to frequent turnover among his office staff when the Nebraska Republican served from 1997-2009.