At the House Budget Committee meeting today, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel let on that he wasn’t consulted about the defense budget:

Well he did say at his confirmation hearing that he wouldn’t be making policy. It’s a bit breathtaking on two levels.

First, it means cuts are being imposed for political reasons unrelated to our defense needs. Valerie Jarrett apparently has a lot more say than does anyone with expertise. Second, the original reason for his placement there was to oversee the drawdown and look after the “troops.” But we see now what an empty suit he is; the troops are on their own.

Contrast that with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who went painstakingly through the budget to come up with cuts that he thought would be the least damaging to national security. He decided which programs were beneficial, which could be elongated and made rational budget decisions.

Conservatives have accused the president of being inattentive to national security. Hagel certainly confirms that. An empty suit in the secretary’s office and political cuts unrelated to defense needs. Yup, that’s how the commander in chief operates.