Today, President Obama officially nominated John Brennan to direct the CIA, since the previous director made a sudden departure (note to prospective Brennan biographers: Watch your step), but the other appointment, of former Nebraska Republican senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense, is what got all the attention. Republicans dutifully trooped to the cable cameras to say somberly that they are "troubled" and "concerned" by Hagel's nomination. Though Hagel was once their esteemed colleague, he made them very angry by turning against the Iraq War after having voted for it in the first place. Because, as they will tell you, the war went swimmingly, and anyone who fails to understand that may not have the judgment to lead the Pentagon.
Though they'll almost certainly lose the battle over Hagel's nomination and look like extremists in the process (noticing a pattern here?), Republicans are plainly spoiling for a fight. Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard has gone all-hands-on-deck to oppose Hagel; the magazine's website was promoting four separate anti-Hagel pieces today. And let it not be said that Kristol ever fails to deploy all the resources at his disposal; his Emergency Committee for Israel, whom we last heard from airing ads advocating the bombing of Iran, has already cut anti-Hagel ads (if all that is reminiscent for you of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a pressure group that grew out of Kristol's Project for a New American Century with the purpose of promoting the Iraq War, you've got a good memory). Today Politico reported that the Hagel nomination is just the first piece of Kristol's plan to remake the Republican party in his image. They're getting the neocon band back together! What could possibly go wrong?
So They Say
"If you went through what I went through, especially the last three months of the year, you get an 'A.'"
—New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gives himself high marks for job performance in 2012
Daily Meme: What's Next?
- It's a new year, it's a new Congress, and it's time for next political season's most valuable players to start asserting their power.
- Perennial next-big-thing Hillary Clinton is back to work after her scary blood clot, and State Department officials gave her a football helmet as a welcome back present.
- The early front-runner before the starting gate even opened, Jeb Bush, got the profile treatment in The Wall Street Journal.
- While a lengthy unpacking of Paul Ryan's fiscal-cliff vote—and what that means for 2016 (yes, the electoral prognosticating cottage industry truly knows no bounds)—made it to The New York Times.
- Paul Ryan's fellow Young Gun Eric Cantor gets profiled by Jason Zengerle in New York magazine, and the verdict is that he may need to be more brash if he wants House gold.
- The Rubio v. Ryan piece is likely to become a stand-by by the time the 2016 Republican primaries start—brace yourself.
- It's not just presidential hopefuls who've been getting the "potential political hotshot" media treatment—Eric Schneiderman, New York's attorney general and lefty hero, earned more real-estate than Cantor in this week's New York.
What We're Writing
- Robert Kuttner advises Obama to call Mitch McConnell's bluff on the debt ceiling.
- Jonathan Bernstein calls out Republicans for playing Constitutional Hardball with the Electoral College.
What We're Reading
- The DISCLOSE Act is headed back to the House.
- In which Alex Pareene notes that "the fact that there is a lot of money to be made in acting like Michele Bachmann is part of why the House seems poised to blow up the U.S. economy. "
- Alec MacGillis unpacks Barney Frank's Senate dreams.
- Adam Serwer defends Django Unchained as a rebuke against decades of racism in Western cinema.
Poll of the Day
Support for the Tea Party movement has evaporated, according to a new survey from Rasmussen. Only 8 percent of likely voters identified themselves as Tea Partiers in the poll, down from the 24 percent who claimed allegiance in April 2010.