What the hell, Chuck Hagel?

Courtesy of the Washington Free Beacon, here’s the man who somehow became Secretary of Defense even though everyone knew it was a terrible idea, Chuck Hagel, holding forth at the University of Nebraska when a professor of Indian extraction asked him a question.  Hagel’s reply began, “You’re not a member of the Taliban, are you?”  

The room didn’t exactly burst into laughter.  No, I think “shocked silence” would be a better description of the response to Hagel’s bizarre little “joke.”

The Pentagon, which has hopefully assembled a special-forces team to deploy rapid apologies for Chuck Hagel gaffes, issued a statement: “Absolutely no slight toward any individual in the audience was intended.  That’s the last thing the Secretary would do under any circumstance, in this or any other setting.  He didn’t know who would be called next to pose a question.”

Which, as the Free Beacon notes, is hard to square with Hagel calling on the professor to invite a question.