FLASHBACK: Obama Questions Bolton’s ‘Temperament’

Admin official calls it 'new low' to attack Hagel's 'temperament'


The White House is calling it a “new low” to criticize the temperament of defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel despite the fact that President Obama did the same during the 2005 confirmation hearings of former Ambassador John Bolton.

“I think that there are some people on this committee who are genuinely struggling with trying to get a sense of whether this person’s temperament or his veracity is such that it would justify placing him in such a sensitive position,” then-Sen. Obama said of Bolton in a April 19, 2005, Senate Foreign Relations hearing.

Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) raised the question of Hagel’s “temperament” Sunday in an interview with “This Week.” The Washington Free Beacon has reported on Hagel’s management style during his years as a senator, and found that he “routinely intimidated staff and experienced frequent turnover.”

“I think another thing, George, that’s going to come up is just his overall temperament, and is he suited to run a department or a big agency or a big entity like the Pentagon,” Corker said. “I think there are numbers of staffers who are coming forth now just talking about the way he has dealt with them.”

A senior administration official pushed back hard on that stance, calling it a “new low” in a statement to Politico Playbook: “This line of attack is a new low. By contrast, Sen. Hagel intends to take the high road in the confirmation process as he defends his strong record.” Obama seems not to have taken the high road during Bolton’s confirmation almost eight years ago.