Hagel’s foes


Former Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska, appears to be President Obama’s choice as secretary of defense in his second term. If Mr. Hagel were to get the job, he probably would serve well.

Some Republican senators and allied groups already are attacking Mr. Hagel. The Senate has the right to advise and consent to the President’s nominations. But it is unjust and useless to prejudge such choices even before they are announced or before senators can question a nominee in hearings.

Mr. Hagel’s critics question whether he supports Israel adequately and focus on his criticism of President George W. Bush’s conduct of the Iraq war. But much of the opposition appears based on the desire of Republican lawmakers and others to make Mr. Obama’s job as hard as possible in his second term and to undercut his ability to put together a coherent policy and working team.

Mr. Hagel is a Vietnam veteran who earned two Purple Hearts. In the Senate, where he served for eight years, he was on intelligence and foreign relations committees. He is now a co-chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.

Other credible possibilities are rumored for the defense post; Mr. Obama could choose one of them instead of Mr. Hagel. But the most important thing for the President to do now is to put up without delay a slate of nominees for the top vacancies in his administration.

The destructive prenomination trashing of potential candidates must end. Surely Washington has better things to do these days.