Does Schumer hold the key to Hagel?

posted at 12:01 pm on January 11, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

If so, then the White House has reason to worry.  Politico’s Manu Raju and Maggie Haberman report that Chuck Schumer remains deeply skeptical about Chuck Hagel’s attitude toward Israel and American security policy in the Middle East, and that he’s also making that clear to his colleagues.  Schumer’s influence in the Senate, especially on policy relating to Israel, would be enough to torpedo Hagel’s confirmation:

Chuck Schumer is quietly letting out the word: He’s far from sold that Chuck Hagel will be a staunch advocate of Israel.

And it’s his vote that counts.

Schumer, the most powerful Jewish Democrat in Congress, has been noncommittal in his public statements on Hagel’s nomination. But privately, several sources say he has told senators it would be “very hard” for him to support Hagel as the next defense secretary because of his positions on Israel over the years. In New York, Schumer has told allies and power brokers in the Jewish community that he’s uneasy about Hagel’s nomination, a concern he reiterated at a private breakfast in Manhattan’s posh Park Avenue Winter restaurant on Wednesday.

If Schumer were to oppose Hagel, it would almost certainly amount to a fatal blow to his candidacy since a number of pro-Israel Democrats who are squeamish about the nominee could very well be influenced by the No. 3 Democrat’s position. It would also give bipartisan political cover to Republicans and neocons fighting Hagel’s nomination.

Hagel has already started making the rounds on Capitol Hill, launching a charm offensive to counter the impression that his own remarks and votes have left on the issues of Israel, Iran, and terrorism.  “Charm” and “Hagel” have been hardly compatible concepts during his Senate tenure, which is one of the problems he’ll face in building support for his confirmation.  He picked up some support from Dennis Ross yesterday, however:

“He feels that who he is, what he stands for and what his attitudes are have been misrepresented and distorted,” said Dennis Ross, a former top Obama Middle East adviser.

“What he said to me very clearly was that … he deeply believes that Iran does need to be prevented from having the bomb and that he doesn’t believe in containment.”

The Jerusalem Post reports from “a US official” that Hagel is arguing that his statements and votes have been misunderstood:

One US official who is familiar with the information Hagel is providing to members of the Senate defended Hagel’s approach to the militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas. As a senator, Hagel decided not to join 88 other senators in a 2006 letter calling on the European Union to designate Lebanon-based Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Hagel believes it is not appropriate for members of Congress to write foreign leaders and that they should write the president, instead. More important, the official said, was Hagel’s voting record.

“There were a number of pieces of legislation that actually called on Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization that he supported and voted for,” the official said.

On Hamas, the official said Hagel also felt his position was being misrepresented. Despite claims to the contrary by critics, Hagel does not support direct, unconditional engagement with Hamas and agrees it must first renounce violence, he said.

It would be easy to test the no-signature argument. Did Hagel ever sign anything similar on other issues?  I don’t have any idea, but it probably wouldn’t be difficult to find out.

On the other hand, Hagel also refused to put his vote on the March 2007 Iran Counter Proliferation Act, voted against designating the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization in September of the same year (while 76 other Senators voted in favor), and was one of only two votes on the Banking Committee in opposition to sanctions on countries that did business with Iran the following year.  None of those involve talking to foreign powers and retaining the modesty of the Senate, and all of those put Hagel very much on the fringe of US policy toward Iran.

That’s really the bigger issue, much more so than whether Hagel is warm, lukewarm, or cold to Israel.  Why has Obama selected a Secretary of Defense who has been so far out of the mainstream on one of the key threats to US interests, even as Obama has so far defined it?  I suspect that is the question that Schumer wants answered — and the answer isn’t likely to please him.


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Hagel’s nomination is somewhat meaningless, in and of itself. SCOAMF will run foreign policy directly from the White House. Hagel just reflects his own mindset and the nomination is merely just to tell us to f__k ourselves and to tell our enemies to start cheering.

Rixon on January 11, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Hagel’s position is closer to Rev. Wright and Louis Farrakhan than the mainstream of America. How does that reflect on Obama?

Tater Salad on January 11, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Hagel’s position is closer to Rev. Wright and Louis Farrakhan than the mainstream of America. How does that reflect on Obama?

Tater Salad on January 11, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Directly.

Rixon on January 11, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Hagel begins his charm offensive.

Doesn’t that require him to possess charm?

“He must have been a real pain in the ass to deal with, because no one seems to personally like him.”

Resist We Much on January 11, 2013 at 12:23 PM

But privately, several sources say he has told senators it would be “very hard” for him to support Hagel as the next defense secretary because of his positions on Israel over the years.

I don’t know why. American Jews spoke on November 6th and, by an overwhelming margin, fully extended the middle finger to Israel by voting for the rat-eared pig. Put another way, why should I care about Israel or Jews when the tribe itself clearly just wants free stuff like others in the parasite class.

Hagel is unfit for SecDef for a lot of reasons by I’m simply not going to care about his hatred of Jews because it clearly isn’t an issue with the Jews in America.

Happy Nomad on January 11, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Schumer’s looking to be bought off.

bflat879 on January 11, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Hagel’s nomination is somewhat meaningless, in and of itself. SCOAMF will run foreign policy directly from the White House. Hagel just reflects his own mindset and the nomination is merely just to tell us to f__k ourselves and to tell our enemies to start cheering.

Rixon on January 11, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Spot on Rixon. The GOP is wasting time whining about every Obama nominee. The notion that Obama would nominate someone conservatives like is laughable. My attitude is give him what he wants in the first two years, let Americans see him in his full socialist glory.
They got a hint in 2010 and the result was not pretty for Dems. In 2014, we would run on his failed policies. He got is tax hike on the rich, if the economy is still crappy, it game over. In the meantime, save the fight for bigger issues like the debt ceiling and focus on building the Party locally.

celticdefender on January 11, 2013 at 12:30 PM

The only good thing about Schumer is his niece Amy, who is a stand-up comic that has a face so pretty she could melt the northern ice cap just by being there.

Otherwise, Chuckles is a common liberal.

Liam on January 11, 2013 at 12:31 PM

An antisemite who hates the gheys. Hmm…..reminds me of muslims. If Schumer (a far-left prog) has doubts about the dude, hes in big trouble. Even if O manages to mollify Schumer, the doubts will linger. And with Iran being so aggressive, it’ll be a problem. And we send a hostile signal to our ally, Israel. Not good.

tommy71 on January 11, 2013 at 12:32 PM

More Squirrel.

FlaMurph on January 11, 2013 at 12:34 PM

As I posted last night. I think the GOP should put a hold on all these nominations until the Senate passes a budget with real budget cuts to entitlement programs instead of faux “cuts” by cutting the percentage spending is increased. It is not purely vindictive because it will force the administration to be accountable for the cuts we all know are necessary.

Happy Nomad on January 11, 2013 at 12:38 PM

Wasting time..whoever Obama wants he gets

End of story

Redford on January 11, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Schummer is the face of the lowest of the low of the commie Democrats all he holds out for is under the table payoffs, he would sell his mother or his kids out for re-election money.

Makes Judas look good this Schummer.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 11, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Let commie hate America Obama scrape the bottom of the commie thug hate America barrell, the sooner he digs himself out of a job the better.

Obama has it within his hate of all of U.S. to end the Democrat Party forever.

Traitor be thy name and let every one know in the clear what he is.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 11, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Hagel also refused to put his vote on the March 2007 Iran Counter Proliferation Act, voted against designating the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization in September of the same year (while 76 other Senators voted in favor), and was one of only two votes on the Banking Committee in opposition to sanctions on countries that did business with Iran the following year.

Yeah….he just loves him some Israel doesn’t he?

Tim_CA on January 11, 2013 at 1:17 PM

As I posted last night. I think the GOP should put a hold on all these nominations until the Senate passes a budget with real budget cuts to entitlement programs

Happy Nomad on January 11, 2013 at 12:38 PM

Todays GOP lacks the testicles for such an endevor.

Harry-friggin’-Reid (the dope from searchlight) run’s circles ’round ‘em in the senate.

And Pelosi is still the major player in the House…cuz boner has no backbone.

We Need New Leadership.

Tim_CA on January 11, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Hagel begins his charm offensive.

Which of course raises the question: where is he going to find the charm? Is he borrowing someone else’s?

tom on January 11, 2013 at 1:32 PM

Come on. We all know Schumer is going to vote for Hagel.

Mark1971 on January 11, 2013 at 1:35 PM

his statements and votes have been misunderstood

wadda moron, his vote is yes or no on issues. How do you misunderstand yes or no? You either speak for or against issues, how do you misunderstand that? He fits right in with the choomer…

RedInMD on January 11, 2013 at 1:45 PM

Hagel’s position is closer to Rev. Wright and Louis Farrakhan than the mainstream of America. How does that reflect on Obama?

Tater Salad on January 11, 2013 at 12:10 PM

like looking in a mirror…like Obama said, if you want to know what he’s about, just look at the people around him.

RedInMD on January 11, 2013 at 1:47 PM

Todays GOP lacks the testicles for such an endevor.

Tim_CA on January 11, 2013 at 1:25 PM

FIFY

katiejane on January 11, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Republicans should just step aside and let the Dems sort this out themselves.

Daemonocracy on January 11, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Schumer will obey his overlord obaka…

ladyingray on January 11, 2013 at 5:43 PM

More important about what all this says about Hagel (who is an idiot) is what his appointment says about Obama. It is an in your face flouting of the concerns of both the Republicans but also of a part of his important support structure in the Senate. I can not tolerate Shumer, who is a smarmy ideologue. Probably the only thing that he and I agree on is support for Israel.

georgeofthedesert on January 12, 2013 at 8:18 PM