When Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) raised the question of Chuck Hagel’s “overall temperament,” some suspected he was fishing. However, as I have reported, staffers in GOP offices have repeatedly said this will be an issue.
Now there is some meat on the bones, via the Washington Times:
[D]uring the Republican’s tenure as a senator from Nebraska through 2009, his office’s turnover rate ranked second-highest of any in the past decade.
In 2005, 20 of 51 staffers left Mr. Hagel’s office, the vast majority of whom left Capitol Hill altogether and were replaced quickly by people with no legislative staff experience. Only George Allen, the former Virginia senator and governor, had a higher turnover rate in the Senate.
He was ‘The Cornhusker wears Prada’ to his staff, some of whom describe their former boss as perhaps the most paranoid and abusive in the Senate, one who would rifle through staffers’ desks and berate them for imagined disloyalty,” former Pentagon adviser Michael Rubin told political analyst Taylor Marsh about Mr. Hagel.
His habit of rifling through employees’ desks has been a topic of Capitol Hill chatter. Less clear is extent of his mistreatment of subordinates, as reported. You will recall that it was on these grounds that Democratic senators — including then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) — refused to confirm John Bolton ambassador to the United Nations. In Hagel’s case, the concern is even greater given his lack of any executive experience remotely comparable to the Pentagon. If he had problem running a Senate office, how will be garner the respect and loyalty of the Defense Department, both civilian and military?
A final note: The Washington Times story suggests there are ex-staffers who can relate details of life in Hagel’s office. If so, Sen. Corker’s prediction of the importance of the temperament issue will be accurate.