WaPo editors, Senate Dems not terribly keen on Hagel for SecDef, either

posted at 9:41 am on December 19, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

So far, the trial balloon coming out of the White House to replace Leon Panetta with Chuck Hagel seems to be losing steam.  It came under immediate criticism not from Barack Obama’s Republican opponents but from prominent Jewish Democrats at a presidential Hanukah party.  Yesterday, the Weekly Standard reported on statements from Senate Democrats looking to distance themselves from Hagel’s remarks about a “Jewish lobby” controlling Washington:

“I know there are some questions about his past comments and I’ll want to talk to him and see what his explanation is,” said Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal. “Yes, it would give rise to question, but there are so many very significant issues and factors to be considered, and he has many profoundly significant qualifications for the job.”

“Any comment that undermines our relationship [with Israel] concerns me,” said Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. Asked if the reference to the “Jewish lobby” is such a statement, Casey said, “Sure, yes.”

Michigan’s Carl Levin said he does not agree with Hagel’s view.

“I don’t think it’s an appropriate statement,” Levin said.

And Barbara Boxer of California said she disagreed with the idea that there exists an intimidating “Jewish lobby” in Washington. “People can say whatever they want,” Boxer said. “I don’t agree with it.”

While the very people Obama needs to confirm Hagel ran for the exits, the Washington Post editorial board weighed in late last night with its own verdict on the Hagel trial balloon.  While hailing Hagel’s honor and integrity, the Post’s editors told Obama to recheck his list:

FORMER SENATOR Chuck Hagel, whom President Obama is reportedly considering for defense secretary, is a Republican who would offer a veneer of bipartisanship to the national security team. He would not, however, move it toward the center, which is the usual role of such opposite-party nominees. On the contrary: Mr. Hagel’s stated positions on critical issues, ranging from defense spending to Iran, fall well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term — and place him near the fringe of the Senate that would be asked to confirm him. …

What’s certain is that Mr. Obama has available other possible nominees who are considerably closer to the mainstream and to the president’s first-term policies. Former undersecretary of defense Michèle Flournoy, for example, is a seasoned policymaker who understands how to manage the Pentagon bureaucracy and where responsible cuts can be made. She would bring welcome diversity as the nation’s first female defense secretary.

Mr. Hagel is an honorable man who served the country with distinction as a soldier in Vietnam and who was respected by his fellow senators. But Mr. Obama could make a better choice for defense secretary.

All of which puts Obama and Hagel in a political pinch.  Instead of winning bipartisan credibility (even a veneer can be handy for a second-term President), the Hagel pick now looks needlessly provocative and extreme.  With Flournoy on the bench and an opportunity for “welcome diversity” and a little history-making in the offing, the choice seems rather easy.

The only question will be whether Obama will balk at having to retreat under heavy criticism a second time on a Cabinet choice.  Perhaps not, but Hagel is hardly the hill on which Obama wants to figuratively fight to the political death, either.  Susan Rice had more personal connection to Obama than Hagel does, or for that matter a number of inconvenient friends and political allies over the years that have gone under the bus when necessary.

Here’s one last question to contemplate: who vetted Hagel for this slot before the trial balloon, anyway?  This administration has a poor track record in research, but this case seems particularly inept.


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Hagel will have a sudden onset of Hammer Toe and need to remove himself from the nomination process.

Bishop on December 19, 2012 at 9:45 AM

Military industrial complex wins again.

libfreeordie on December 19, 2012 at 9:48 AM

Military industrial complex wins again.

libfreeordie on December 19, 2012 at 9:48 AM

No thanks to your liberal media suddenly losing interest in the occupations once King Obama was elected.

MelonCollie on December 19, 2012 at 9:51 AM

The correlation is clear:

As Hagel became more anti-Semitic, he drew closer to Democrat policies (a haven for anti-Semitic bigotry), especially the Obama administration.

sentinelrules on December 19, 2012 at 9:53 AM

The wheels on the bus go round and round..

Illinidiva on December 19, 2012 at 9:54 AM

Here’s one last question to contemplate: who vetted Hagel for this slot before the trial balloon, anyway? This administration has a poor track record in research, but this case seems particularly inept.

I posted this on the Headlines thread but its apropos here:

The fact that a has-been fossil like Hagel is the best that Dems can come up with for a SecDef nomination tells you how weak they are on the subject of defense.

Bitter Clinger on December 19, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Hagel will have a sudden onset of Hammer Toe and need to remove himself from the nomination process.

Bishop on December 19, 2012 at 9:45 AM

Here’s an approach that’s never been tried before: He could faint, hit his head, and get a concussion.
//

Bitter Clinger on December 19, 2012 at 9:57 AM

Military industrial complex wins again.

libfreeordie on December 19, 2012 at 9:48 AM

please set yourself on fire like the Vietnamese Buddhist.

tom daschle concerned on December 19, 2012 at 9:58 AM

There’s no way Obama doesn’t move forward with this. Hagel was one of Obama’s staunchest “Republican” endorsers, supporting him from the very beginning.

A machine politician will remain a machine politician. And I guess Hagel’s “Jewish lobby” will just have to choke on their matzoh.

KingGold on December 19, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Guys there IS a powerful Jewish lobby in Washington, arguably one of the most powerful and influential. And if you don’t already know that or aren’t actually aware, the list of “questionables” disavowing it’s existence SHOULD give you a second for pause and consideration.

I’m not saying its a terrible thing. Well… I am. Lobbying should be illegal since its a subversion of YOUR right to representation by your elected representatives. They are met on the tarmac in DC after their election being offered bribes and access in order for your representatives to represent THEIR interests instead of solely yours who elected them. But that’s another story. Since there is lobbying, Israel has every right to it.

But what Hagel said IS true, like it or not.

Genuine on December 19, 2012 at 10:05 AM

Meh. Anyone else now looks reassuring in comparison. Oh the humanity.

Seth Halpern on December 19, 2012 at 10:07 AM

Send this dolt back to his meaningless existence and find someone who will be a credit to our military.

rplat on December 19, 2012 at 10:07 AM

@Genuine: The same electorate which wants Obama as President and thinks taxing the rich can substitute for entitlement reform? You’re breaking my heart.

Seth Halpern on December 19, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Knowing all they know including the despicable way Mr. Obama has treated Israel, American Jews still voted in large numbers for Mr. Obama.

If the President wants Hagel in that position, he will appoint him. No matter how much noise people make.

Marcus Traianus on December 19, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Guys there IS a powerful Jewish lobby in Washington, arguably one of the most powerful and influential. And if you don’t already know that or aren’t actually aware, the list of “questionables” disavowing it’s existence SHOULD give you a second for pause and consideration.

Yeah, I hate Hollywood as well.

sentinelrules on December 19, 2012 at 10:19 AM

Ot: Bork passed away
RIP

cmsinaz on December 19, 2012 at 10:32 AM

@Genuine: The same electorate which wants Obama as President and thinks taxing the rich can substitute for entitlement reform? You’re breaking my heart.
Seth Halpern on December 19, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Actually I said little to nothing about the electorate beyond the fact that lobbying is a subversion of your right to representation.

Are you saying that smart effective leaders who do what is really right should govern against the will of the “electorate” you speak of though?

Nice dodging of acknowledgment of the true point of my post though.

Genuine on December 19, 2012 at 10:37 AM

Obama should select Jim Webb….
He would be a decent choice, and I doubt many could find fault with him.

MityMaxx on December 19, 2012 at 10:51 AM

@Genuine: The Constitution establishes elected branches of government, and I have a right to vote and to vote against anyone I feel doesn’t represent me adequately. There are also laws against bribery and bribe-taking and the like. That’s my right to representation.

Lobbyists have a First Amendment right to lobby. You can make a case that they may be required to disclose their lobbying. What you’re advocating is some kind of Rousseauean “general will” intuited by politicians from election returns.

The Framers intended the House to be more democratic, the Senate less so. The will of the electorate was in any case to be mediated through its representatives subject to freedom of speech, assembly and petition, not replicated clairvoyantly.

Seth Halpern on December 19, 2012 at 11:00 AM

No thanks, but I think Obama will press ahead anyway… “He won”…

Khun Joe on December 19, 2012 at 11:13 AM

Jews have systematically voted for and funded anti-antisemitism in the USA and Canada for 70 years. The only they rise to protest is when a Republican who shares the feelings of the entire Obama administration on Israel and Jews in general is nominated. Disgusting.

pat on December 19, 2012 at 11:17 AM

Maybe Jane Fonda is available……oh wait.

BillyPenn on December 19, 2012 at 11:40 AM

Hagel and Obama hate the Jews.

Schadenfreude on December 19, 2012 at 12:44 PM

…if nobody likes him…JugEars will appoint him for sure!

KOOLAID2 on December 19, 2012 at 1:33 PM

Jews have systematically voted for and funded anti-antisemitism in the USA and Canada for 70 years. The only they rise to protest is when a Republican who shares the feelings of the entire Obama administration on Israel and Jews in general is nominated. Disgusting.

pat on December 19, 2012 at 11:17 AM

Yeah, this is a problem for me. American Jews have a remarkable tendency to aid in their own destruction and refuse to consider their own double standard. Liberalism trumps all, I guess. BTW, I don’t agree with the comments offered above by Genuine.

a capella on December 19, 2012 at 1:34 PM

“Who vetted Hagel”? Your last question assumes that Hagel’s views on Defense and Israel aren’t exactly why Obama wants him.

Zumkopf on December 19, 2012 at 1:50 PM