When it comes to picking political appointees, Ashton (Ash) Carter is about as good as it gets. The former Deputy Secretary of Defense is apparently the White House’s choice to replace Chuck Hagel in the Pentagon’s top job, and a review of Carter’s resume suggests he really is “the best man for the job.” How often do you come across a political appointee who shows up for his or her confirmation hearing already understanding every facet of the post for which they have been nominated — not to mention having superior political skills, a doctorate in physics, and a network of mentors that looks like a Who’s Who of postwar defense sages? Some of the commentary following disclosure of Carter’s likely nomination has dwelled on the fact that he never served in the military, but Hagel’s status as a war hero didn’t noticeably enhance his performance as defense secretary. The job of defense secretary is mainly about sound judgment, management skills, political acumen, and public stature. By those measures, Ash Carter is an inspired choice. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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