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Ralph Nader > Special Features > Letter to President Obama: Chuck Hagel

Dear President Obama:

Now that you have won your last election, there is no longer any conflict of interest between your electoral aspirations and what needs to be done for our country and its people – present and future generations.

It is customary for citizens to expect more from their President’s second term for just that reason. However, such expectations have rarely been met. Character and personality tend to combine with other factors to make second terms even less productive than first terms.

Thus far, since Election Day, your decisions have not reflected these higher expectations whether domestically or in foreign/military affairs. Certainly in your handling of the Republicans or in your presumed solidarity with the Democrats in Congress, the past continues into the present. Character and personality in leaders are quite decisive traits in shaping a president’s legacy. The next four years will require you to start addressing long-overdue demands for our country.

Since November 6, Election Day, there has been one departure from your practice of selecting nominees unlikely to be opposed by interest groups allied with or influential over the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. That is the reported selection of former Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

The reasons for your reported choice of Mr. Hagel are seen as laudatory given the bloated, redundant, deficit-ridden, unauditable Pentagon budget that consumes half of the entire, discretionary federal budget post demise of the Soviet Union. Should you back down on your reported decision in the face of widely-criticized “vicious attacks” on Mr. Hagel, to use the phrase by four former U.S. national security advisors from both parties, you will, as they note*, “discourage future prospective nominees from public service when our country badly needs quality leadership in government.”

The place to “cut and run” is on your basketball court, not in the Oval Office.


Ralph Nader