What's shaping up to be one of the more contentious nomination hearings for one of President Obama's cabinet choices is set to open at 9:30 a.m. ET when members of the Senate Committee on Armed Services get their chance to publicly grill former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., who has been tapped for the post of defense secretary.
A re-elected president who gets to choose a second-term Cabinet has much more knowledge of the kind of team he needs than he did the first time around.
That's one simple way to understand President Obama's decisions as he creates his Cabinet 2.0.
The choices are not those of a president-elect who hasn't moved into the White House, or of a green president who hasn't watched his first international crisis unfold from his leather seat in the White House Situation Room.
Weeks before President Obama officially nominated Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense, the lobbying battle was well under way. The fight might be bigger than any other Cabinet nomination in history as the former Republican senator's friends and foes prepare for modern combat on TV and the Internet.
So why did President Obama choose Chuck Hagel to be his new defense secretary?
First, Hagel is Obama's kind of Republican. The former senator from Nebraska is a realist and pragmatist who hasn't been afraid to buck the orthodoxy of his chosen party, for instance when Hagel opposed the Iraq War.