Politics and polarization should not hinder choices
Former Sen. Chuck Hagel and White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, who have been nominated to top national security jobs by President Obama, are controversial for different reasons.
Mr. Hagel, a Republican former two-term senator from Nebraska, is the nominee to replace Leon Panetta as secretary of defense. Some of his former Republican colleagues oppose him because they find him to be insufficiently supportive of Israel and not enough of a saber-rattler towards Iran.
Neither senators nor secretaries of defense automatically should support Israeli policy because that policy is not automatically in the best interest of the United States. Rather, they should strive to arrive at joint policy with allies such as Israel, but make their ultimate decisions based on American interests.
As the president noted in nominating Mr. Hagel, a Vietnam combat veteran, war for him "is not an abstraction." That's a key consideration as some members of Congress continue to talk about war with Iran as if it were a board game.
Mr. Brennan, the president's nominee to replace Gen. David Petraeus as CIA director, is a 25-year veteran of the agency. He has no political affiliation and has served in top counterterrorism positions for the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.
Both men are capable and they have the confidence of the president, who ultimately is responsible for the relevant policy. Given the political polarization in the Capitol, senators should ensure that their advise consent role does not become obstruct and stonewall.