Morning Bits

Will he? “If he does run [for Virginia governor], [Lt. Gov. Bill] Bolling intends to position himself as an “independent Republican,” so some predict that he will not stray too far from the conservative positions he has staked out over the years as lieutenant governor, state senator and a Hanover County supervisor.”

Won’t he show some spine? “None will be on the spot more than New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, one of the leading Democratic advocates of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. Schumer passed up the opportunity to endorse [Chuck] Hagel’s qualifications in an appearance on ‘Meet the Press’ last month. It’s notable that Schumer, usually a fierce, partisan advocate for the president’s agenda, pulled his punches. If Schumer doesn’t offer quick unequivocal backing of Hagel after he’s nominated, it’s a clear sign the nomination could be in trouble.” Schumer looked mighty uncomfortable when asked about it over the weekend.

From left, Democratic Sens. Patty Murray, Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid and Richard Durbin on former senator Chuck Hagel’s nomination. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Will he force President Obama to reform entitlements? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:  “Now the question is what are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country and our future and that’s our spending addiction. . . . Until we address the entitlement programs and make the eligibility for entitlements meet the demographics of our country, we can’t ever solve this problem.”

Won’t he prod some on the far right into giving up these stunts? One can only hope. Former congressman Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) on the rump group that tried to oust Speaker of the House John Boehner: “They should kick them all out of the Republican conference … I don’t know what their objective is. If it was to deny the speakership to Boehner and hand it to Mrs. Pelosi, I don’t know how their cause would have been furthered. If it’s to force the vote to a second ballot to make some demands, well, who the hell do these people think they are? Twelve out of 233, and they’re making demands? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Will he explain why in the world he picked Hagel? Bill Kristol is on to something about Obama’s reasoning: “I really don’t know why the president wants him except I think he maybe he likes the fact that Chuck Hagel has complained about the power of the Jewish lobby and was one of very few senators to … [have] voted against Iran sanctions, a policy the president now claims as his own and refused to vote to designate the Iranian revolutionary guard as a terrorist group and the like, maybe President Obama likes that part of the Hagel record.”

Won’t he (and many others qualified to be defense secretary) raise the question as to why the president picked the guy with so little judgment or intellectual heft and so much baggage? Brookings Institute’s Michael O’Hanlon: “It is time we stopped casually tossing around big defense budget saving numbers, or pretending that magical reforms in how the Pentagon does business can quickly yield huge savings painlessly, and instead talk about how any cuts to defense spending comport with what we’re asking the military to do.” Read the whole thing.

Will he? ” One way in which the United States could advance the vital national security interest it shares with Israel and the Sunni Arab states — President Obama has repeatedly affirmed that Iran must be prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons — would be to announce immediately U.S. support for international monitors of Iran’s June 2013 presidential elections. . . . .[J]ust as Ronald Reagan’s speeches condemning the Soviet Union provided vital moral support to those caught in the Russian gulag, so too could Obama give heart to the sizable proportion of the Iranian population that yearns to rid itself of Islamic totalitarianism.” I find it highly unlikely.

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Sunday wrap