The Conversation

Hagel: Hagel

Chuck Hagel has fans! They don't like Israel.

Feb 19, 2013 1:15 PM PT

This is rather typical of the kind of mail we get supporting Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense:

Subj: Hagel is a prophet...An Icon

Hagel is a fearless prophet like Isaiah, Hosea, Ezekiel, Micah and other Biblical prophets who warned the wicked Hebrews to repent from their ways. Jews today cannot see their blatant evil in supporting and condoning the vile and oppressive occupation regime against the Palestinians. Hagel is my hero. A truth teller. Fighting the lies of the Zionists.

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No, there's no excuse for comparing Israel with 'apartheid'

Feb 19, 2013 12:43 PM PT

Slate's Dave Weigel offers an argument in defense of Chuck Hagel's alleged remarks in 2010 suggesting that Israel could become an apartheid state if it did not make peace with the Palestinians: Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the same thing that same year

As I've noted before, that was the dumbest thing Barak has ever said--firstly because it's not true, and second because it props up one of the most malicious anti-Israel memes.

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After Hagel filibuster, left vents at Harry Reid

Feb 14, 2013 2:57 PM PT

After Republicans mustered a filibuster to block the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, the left is raging at... Harry Reid, for backing down on his pledge to "reform" (i.e. remove) the filibuster from the Senate rules (no one blames Obama for nominating Hagel, of course). Here are a few typical examples:

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Hagel political fallout: Israel officially a 'wedge issue'

Feb 12, 2013 12:47 PM PT

Liberal supporters of Israel such as Alan Dershowitz often justify their support for Democrats, even amidst the anti-Israel drift of the party's activists and voters, by saying they do not want Israel to become a "wedge" issue.

Organizations such as AIPAC--conspicuously dormant in the Hagel fight--are at great pains to include Democrats who show minimal support for Israel in order to maintain an appearance of bipartisanship.

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Archaeologists unearth Book of Hagel; prophesies for Senate's Jews

Feb 12, 2013 4:46 AM PT

Archaeologists working at a dig site near the Dead Sea in Israel have uncovered a long-lost ancient text that appears to prophesy doom for the twelve Jewish Democrats in the U.S. Senate for their failure (thus far) to protest or oppose the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) to the critical position of Secretary of Defense. The following is a rough translation of the ancient text, which dates back well over 2,000 years.

The Book of Hagel (Chapter 17)

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New audio: Hagel tells Arab audience U.S. must 'reverse optics' on Israel, 2007

Feb 6, 2013 12:29 PM PT

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) is not providing the Senate any more information about past speeches or funders. Luckily, a few of his former audiences are only too proud to share his remarks with the world.

The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations recently published a recording of a speech Hagel gave to its conference in 2007. In addition to calling for unconditional talks with the Iranian regime, Hagel said that the U.S. had to "reverse optics" in its relationship with Israel in order to restore its credibility as an honest broker between Israelis and Palestinians, and to boost its diplomacy in the Middle East more generally.

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Time to bring in some little kids to insist on confirming Hagel

Feb 1, 2013 12:24 PM PT

The Hagel nomination probably isn't in terminal danger, no matter how comically awful his confirmation performance was.  Although it's interesting to note that Team Obama is striving to paint Hagel as the victim of mean Republican hecklers, which could be their way of setting up an exit strategy for him, via the Media Martyrdom Express.

But if the outcome does appear to be in doubt, Obama could resort to the old tried-and-true tactic of marching some small children onstage to demand Hagel's confirmation.  That always works.  In fact, I think Republicans should start lining up children at all their press conferences, too.  Let the next "fiscal cliff" drama be conducted against a backdrop of adorable moppets holding up signs that show how much debt Barack Obama has piled on their shoulders.  Let the next gun-control conference hear from children whose parents have saved their lives by using legal firearms.

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Hagel has no idea where the sequester comes from

Jan 31, 2013 2:38 PM PT

It was not the most sensational gaffe of the day, but the most consequential. Former Sen. Chuck Hagel, under questioning by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) in his confirmation hearing for the post of Secretary of Defense, did not know that the Budget Control Act of 2011 established the sequester that will cut billions in defense spending.

As laid out by Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin (D-MI), Hagel's view on the sequester was one of the most important criteria against which he would be judged: "Senator Hagel’s views today on the continuing resolution and the sequester will be of great interest to this committee and to the nation."

I know the media is objective and netural...

Jan 31, 2013 12:54 PM PT

...because neutral and objective people always go into Mobile Gundam Force Spazz Mode to rehabilitate a bumbling imbecile who humiliated himself on national television.

 My general rules:

The more strenuously the media insists "There's no story," the more convinced I am there's a story.

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Hagel may face filibuster after hearing bust

Jan 31, 2013 12:50 PM PT

Jennifer Rubin reports that Senate opponents of Chuck Hagel's candidacy for Secretary of Defense are nearing the magic number of 41 votes necessary to sustain a filibuster to prevent his confirmation. 

Democrats seem to be determined to vote for Hagel regardless, but the strong performance of the Republican minority on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Hagel's weak and self-contradictory response to questions about his record and his views, may have convinced enough wavering colleagues to switch to "no."

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Why Hagel?

Jan 31, 2013 12:29 PM PT

The overwhelming feeling you get from watching the low points of Chuck Hagel's SecDef hearings is: what on Earth is this man doing here?  He scarcely seems as if he wants to be there.  The angles of attack taken by various skeptical senators were entirely predictable; with the possible exception of small but telling incidents like the al-Jazeera interview that Ted Cruz bludgeoned him with, he should have known all of this was coming.

Leaving aside politics, the proverbial man from Mars would wonder why this particular gentleman was tapped for a position that many others must be far more qualified to hold.  But of course, it's all about politics - not only Obama picking a fight with his political opponents over the nomination, but also Hagel's real job, which will involve running through the Defense Department with a budget axe, while assuring credulous media talking heads that we don't need all that ironmongery any more, because the world is ultra safe now.

Media flipping out over Ted Cruz questioning of Hagel

Jan 31, 2013 12:28 PM PT

The mainstream media hivemind has decided that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) quoted Chuck Hagel's words out of context in confronting him with past statements about the U.S. and Israel. Dave Weigel of Slate even went so far as to accuse Cruz of accusing Hagel of antisemitism--an entirely unsupportable accusation he attempted to defend (poorly, in my view) by claiming Cruz had referenced the Holocaust. Cruz's questions were harsh, and it's possible to argue for a different interpretation of Hagel's words, but Cruz's own reads were likely correct--especially on the Lebanon war, where Hagel made false equivalences between Israel and Hezbollah.

The truth is that the left and the media are embarrassed for, and by, Hagel. Making up a non-controversy about Cruz sets Hagel up as some kind of victim. Look for the development of that meme in the hours ahead.

Hagel On The Hotseat

Jan 31, 2013 11:16 AM PT

 Former Senator Chuck Hagel is getting roughed up by Republicans at his ongoing confirmation hearing, today..

Sen. John McCain R-Ariz. blasted him this morning for his strong opposition to the surge that brought stability into the region, and wanted to know if he would now admit he was wrong. 

"Were you correct of incorrect that the surge would be the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam. Were you correct or incorrect - yes or no?"

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Graham destroys Hagel--and Israel-haters--over 'Jewish lobby'

Jan 31, 2013 10:58 AM PT

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is an experienced military lawyer, but asked Hagel two very simple questions about the "Jewish lobby" "Israel lobby": can you name one Senator that has been "intimidated" (as Hagel had claimed) by them? Can you name one "dumb thing" (another Hagel claim) the Senate has done because of them? Hagel had to admit that he could not. The Israel-haters--who proudly claim Hagel's newfound support for Israel is a lie--have had their idiocy called out in front of the entire nation. 

Incidentally, the so-called "lobby" has been embarrassingly timid on the Hagel nomination. AIPAC's silence has been taken by some Democrats to mean tacit support for Hagel--wrongly, but predictably. In the unlikely event that Hagel is defeated (which would require several Democrats to come to their senses), the Israel-haters will no doubt blame the "lobby" anyway. 

Hagel pretends the problem is "one vote" or "one statement"

Jan 31, 2013 7:32 AM PT

Former Sen Chuck Hagel (R-NE) is testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, hoping to be confirmed as the next Secretary of Defense. He has attempted to address his critics, insisting that he should not be judged by "one vote" or "one statement." But of course, that is question-begging--it's not one vote that causes concern. It's a pattern of votes against sanctions on Iran and a pattern of anti-Israel statements, among other issues. As questioning begins, that's where the members of the committee ought to seek answers.

Overall, his opening statement was very weak--a far cry from what was promised by former Sen. John Warner, who introduced him and promised that Hagel's statement would address every single outstanding question.

Politico finally asks: Is Chuck Hagel qualified for the job?

Jan 31, 2013 4:33 AM PT

No, really, it took them this long to pose the most obvious question, which the Weekly Standard answered almost a month ago. At least Politico seems to get the answer:

“America is at a delicate moment of transition in defense policy and spending,” said Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America. “Sen. Hagel has not proposed serious alternatives during these, or other, defense policy fights; nor has he made any significant contribution — either in office or out — to the even more fundamental questions about the future of U.S. defense posture, the shape and function of the defense establishment, or chronic and complicated spending problems at the Pentagon.”

Hegseth went on to call Hagel’s service in Vietnam and later work on veterans issues “unquestioned.”

“Both of these facts would make him a great secretary of Veterans Affairs, but not necessarily secretary of defense,” he said. “Sen. Hagel is the wrong man at the wrong time to lead the Department of Defense.”

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