Looming Chuck Hagel Pick Sparks Fierce Rancor

Democrat Says Pentagon Decision Has Been Made

getty images

By Reuters

Published January 06, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

In recent weeks a number of prominent Republicans have said they would oppose Hagel’s nomination. On Sunday, Republican lawmakers made clear he would face a tough nomination process.

“This is an in-your-face nomination by the president to all of us who are supportive of Israel,” South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“I don’t know what his management experience is regarding the Pentagon, little, if any, so I think it’s an incredibly controversial choice.”

Many Republicans contend that Hagel, who left the Senate in 2008, at times opposed Israel’s interests. He voted several times against U.S. sanctions on Iran, and made disparaging remarks about the influence of what he called a “Jewish lobby” in Washington.

Hagel has also been critical of the size of the American military, telling the Financial Times in 2011 that the Defense Department was “bloated” and needed “to be pared down.”

An editorial in The Washington Post last month said that given the scale of the cuts Hagel seeks, he was “not the right choice” for defense secretary.

Senate minority Leader Mitch McConnell said “there would be a lot of tough questions of Senator Hagel.”

“But he will be treated fairly by Republicans in the Senate,” the Kentucky Republican told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Hagel has also been attacked by gay rights groups for remarks in 1998 questioning whether an “openly aggressively gay” nominee could be an effective U.S. ambassador. He apologized for the comments last month saying they were “insensitive.”

If confirmed, Hagel would become the first former enlisted soldier to lead the Pentagon. He served alongside his brother Tom in Vietnam, and they earned five Purple Hearts between them.

Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, said the way Hagel had been targeted was not fair.

“He hasn’t had a chance to speak for himself,” she said on ABC’s “This Week. “Why all the pre-judging, I don’t know.”

OBAMA’S TIES TO HAGEL

Last month Obama offered strong support for Hagel as a possible replacement for Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who has said he wants to leave early in the second term.

“I’ve served with Chuck Hagel. I know him. He is a patriot. He is somebody who has done extraordinary work both in the United States Senate, somebody who served this country with valor in Vietnam,” Obama told “Meet the Press” on Dec. 30.

Obama and Hagel bonded over their shared opposition to the Iraq War. Obama rose to national prominence through his criticism of the war, while Hagel made himself an isolated figure in the Republican Party by taking a similar position. The pair traveled to Iraq together in 2008.

While Obama may hope that his choice of a Republican to lead the military would be seen as a gesture of bipartisanship, Hagel has been sharply critical of his own party since leaving the Senate in 2009. Last year, Hagel endorsed a Democratic candidate for the Senate in Nebraska.

In 2009, Republican former Vice President Dick Cheney told Newsweek: “Let’s say I believe firmly in Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican. But it’s very hard sometimes to adhere to that where Chuck Hagel is involved.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.