Right Wing Outrage Over Chuck Hagel Nomination for Defense Secretary Overblown

Chuck Hagel - Caricature
Right Wing Outrage Over Chuck Hagel Nomination for Defense Secretary Overblown (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

CHUCK HAGEL NOMINATION:  Now that President Obama has “picked a fight with the Republicans” and some Democrats, I might add, by nominating Chuck Hagel as his pick for Defense Secretary, it’s about to get ugly. The critics are going to pull a Susan Rice on Chuck Hagel, who has ticked off the gay community, pro-Israel groups and some lawmakers who were upset over his position on Iran and a number of other issues. During an interview with the Lincoln Journal Star, Chuck Hagel said an accurate assessment of his record will demonstrate “unequivocal, total support for Israel” and endorsement of tough international economic sanctions against Iran. He also said the negative assessment of his record by his critics have taken on a “life of its own.” The reality is that if you don’t ascribe to the view that the one way to help Israel is a strike on Iran, you shouldn’t be type-cast as anti-Israel.

The right wing tag-team of Sen. John McCain and Mitch McConnell are slamming Chuck Hagel now. Um, laughable considering John McCain praised him in 2006 saying “I’d be honored to have Chuck with me in any capacity….he’d make a great Secretary of State. Then there’s Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell who praised Hagel in 2007, as “one of the premier foreign policy voices….” In 2008, he also praised Hagel as a “leading voice in foreign affairs.” John McCain is just a bitter man, who is still chewing on sour grapes over the shellacking he took from then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. Unless something has changed, President Obama can pick his own team, unless a candidate has done something egregious.

The Emergency Committee for Israel sent out the following press release, even reserving the domain, ChuckHagel.com:

The Emergency Committee for Israel will vigorously oppose the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as our next secretary of defense. We have examined Mr. Hagel’s public record, which is marked by an animus toward our friend Israel and a surprising solicitude for our enemies Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. We believe Mr. Hagel’s record–both his votes and his statements–place him well outside the American mainstream. We look forward to participating in a full and fair debate on Mr. Hagel’s record. We trust, at the conclusion of that debate, the United States Senate will withhold its consent to Mr. Hagel’s selection as Secretary of Defense.

For a full accounting of Chuck Hagel’s record on key foreign policy issues, please visit www.ChuckHagel.com

The comment Chuck Hagel made in 2006 that the right wing and some pro-Israeli groups consider anti-Israel:

“I am a United States senator. I am not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator, I support Israel, but my first interest is I take an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States.”

Let’s not forget that Chuck Hagel voted for $38 billion to go to Israel over his senate career, so this isn’t someone who is anti-Israel. Chuck Hagel has the scars and “shrapnel” on his body to prove that he would be a good Defense Secretary. He is a Vietnam war veteran with two Purple Hearts, but that means nothing to those who aim to Susan Rice his nomination. The White House has reached out to the Jewish community to address their concerns with Hagel. I guess we will see everything thrown at Chuck Hagel, as they tried to discredit Susan Rice.

Several conservative Jewish organizations have been strongly opposed. Their concerns are multifold. Hagel has previously referred to the “Jewish lobby” (perceived to be a derisive reference) and he has opposed unilateral sanctions against Iran regarding its nuclear program. Iran is one of Israel’s most important national security concerns.  Hagel is criticized for a past op-ed in which he stated that Israel needs to show a commitment to peace.  Also, he has indicated he might support negotiations with Hamas although he supported a bill that said contact should be avoided until it recognized Israel’s sovereignty. Source

Personally, I think the outrage from the Jewish groups is overblown. As he said, his voting record where Israel is concerned is impeccable. “I didn’t sign on to certain resolutions and letters because they were counter-productive and didn’t solve a problem,” the Lincoln Journal Star reports. Chuck Hagel isn’t so out of the mainstream as they are trying to paint him as. Rather than cherry-pick one or two things, why not judge him on the entirety of his career? We have all made comments decades ago that we would probably walk back if given the chance or have evolved from previous positions. One thing about this man is that he says what he means and means what he says. So, if this is the in-your-face nominee from President Obama mocking Republicans, then so be it. We lived through Donald Rumsfeld.  The bigger question for me is why President Obama is surrounding himself with a cabinet that lacks diversity — a mostly all-white group of men. Once all the noise dies down, I predict that Chuck Hagel will be confirmed as our next Defense Secretary. So, I guess I should end by saying, “get ready for a Hagel Pentagon.”

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