Video: McCain goes after Hagel on the surge; Update: Hagel says Iranian government “elected … legitimate”

posted at 12:31 pm on January 31, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Presidents will nominate Senators to Cabinet positions in part to get an easy ride to confirmation, and soft treatment during confirmation hearings.  If that’s what Barack Obama and Chuck Hagel expected, they got a rude awakening, almost literally, when John McCain took his turn at the hearing this morning.  McCain ripped Hagel for opposing the 2007 surge in Iraq, and later for his opposition to Obama’s own surge in Afghanistan:

Lawmakers on Thursday demanded that secretary of defense nominee Chuck Hagel explain controversial remarks he has made and votes he cast during his Senate career, as the Nebraska Republican sought to defend his record at a confirmation hearing.

In a tense exchange, Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) pressed Hagel on whether he stood by his opposition to the decision to surge U.S. troops into Iraq in 2007. Hagel, who once called the surge the “most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam,” resisted McCain’s repeated attempts to solicit a “yes” or “no” answer.

“I’m not going to give you a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ I’ll defer that to the judgment of history,” said Hagel, arguing that his comments at the time were a reflection of his opposition to the war in Iraq and not just the surge. …

Hagel’s is likely to be among toughest confirmation hearings for the defense secretary job in recent years. His predecessor, Leon E. Panetta, sailed to confirmation in the summer of 2011, as he transitioned from the helm of the CIA. Panetta’s predecessor, Robert M. Gates, another former CIA chief, was unanimously confirmed by the Armed Services Committee in December 2006, replacing Donald H. Rumsfeld, who left the post as an unpopular secretary.

Hagel might have expected tough questions from James Inhofe, but probably not from McCain, who usually instigates bipartisan efforts in the upper chamber.  McCain had Hagel so rattled that Hagel later returned to McCain’s challenge during Bill Nelson’s more sympathetic questioning.

Inhofe, however, did get his own shot at Hagel, asking why he thinks Iran has endorsed his nomination:

“Given that Iran, the people — I’m quoting right now from Iran — people of the Middle East, the Muslim region and North Africa, people of these regions hate America from the bottom of their heart,” said Inhofe. “It further said Israel is a cancerous tumor in the heart of the Islamic world. They further said Iran’s warriors are ready and willing to wipe Israel off the map. The question I’d like to ask you, and you can answer for the record if you’d like, why do you think the Iranian foreign ministry so strongly supports your nomination to be the Secretary of Defense?”

Hagel responded, “I have a difficult enough time with American politics, Senator. I have no idea, but thank you. And I’ll be glad to respond further for the record.”

That’s a pretty good non-response response.  Hagel floundered with McCain, however, and on a question of core competency for the job.  If Hagel got both surges so flat-out wrong, what does that say about his judgment as the man in charge of the nation’s defense?  And what does that say about the man who nominated Hagel, too?

Update: Isn’t this a Gerald Fordesque “Poland is not under Soviet domination” moment?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Xqi-7ooQrSI

Former senator Chuck Hagel defended his vote against designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group, claiming it would have been unprecedented and potentially harmful to give that designation to a representative of a “legitimate” government.

The Islamist regime in Iran, Hagel said, was “an elected, legitimate government, whether we agree or not.”

The Iranian government is currently gearing up for elections by arresting “anti-revolutionary” journalists, and deciding whether or not to allow pro-reform candidates to participate, many of whom have been living under house arrest for years.

Yikes. Could this be going any worse for Hagel and Obama?


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So obviously Chief Justice Roberts has no real intention of allowing this to come before the SCOTUS, 100 percent pure Kabuki Theater while the SCOTUS proves it no longer has any legitimacy.

SWalker on January 31, 2013 at 1:18 PM

If Roberts overturned the obozo Presidency (my hope for change), that would rehabilitate his image instantly.

Flange on January 31, 2013 at 1:40 PM

Resist We Much on January 31, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Comedy platinum

Schadenfreude on January 31, 2013 at 1:42 PM

Sen. Schumer’s palm meeting his face right about now.

Jabberwock on January 31, 2013 at 1:43 PM

Hey, idiots, ya know, maybe when we oppose someone, you should consider that we good, principled reasons instead of screaming “YOU JUST OPPOSE HIM BECAUSE PRESIDENT OBAMA NOMINATED HIM AND THERE’S A BLACK MAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE! YOU BITTER, BITTER CLINGER!!!”

Hagel, the Iranian choice.

Resist We Much on January 31, 2013 at 1:36 PM

You know, there’s very little difference between Hagel’s positions and Obama’s positions (if Obama were being honest — you have to determine Obama’s positions by his actions, not his words).

Which means if Hagel was black, he’d be a shoe-in.

The Rogue Tomato on January 31, 2013 at 1:46 PM

They will still vote for him…

d1carter on January 31, 2013 at 1:33 PM

Correct. 100% Kabuki.

rrpjr on January 31, 2013 at 1:47 PM

They will still vote for him…

d1carter on January 31, 2013 at 1:33 PM
Correct. 100% Kabuki.

rrpjr on January 31, 2013 at 1:47 PM

Yep. Positively incestuous.

kingsjester on January 31, 2013 at 1:50 PM

Riiiight and I guess all of those governments in the South when the KKK actively worked to disenfranchise blacks were “legitimate,” too.

Who’s surprised? This tool doesn’t think that Hezbollah or Hamas is a terrorist group. I wonder what he thinks of their “curiously familiar” salute.

Sieg Heil, Allah! /

Resist We Much on January 31, 2013 at 1:58 PM

This guy is perfect for Dear Leader’s band of misfits…

d1carter on January 31, 2013 at 2:00 PM

I hope they question this guy so hard he goes home cryin’ to his mama. He’s going to be the one who has our backs for the next 4 years. With that said, we shouldn’t let anyone from the govt anywhere near our arms.

Kissmygrits on January 31, 2013 at 2:04 PM

Did any Democrat even try to defend him ?

Jabberwock on January 31, 2013 at 2:07 PM

I hate iran. As most know, I’m pretty hardcore when it comes to crime. Last week, the Iranians hanged two young men for a robbery. It is on tape and you can see it on youtube. It’s misrepresented that the kid stabbed the guy. He did not. At the hanging he is crying with his head on the shoulder of his executioner. This is what is cruel and unusual punishment in that it is disproportionate to the crime. All these lefty tw*ts complain about our justice while only making the weakest protestations against Iran. Now, our government is legitimizing them. What an embarrassment!

Blake on January 31, 2013 at 2:22 PM

Given that the Iranian slate of candidates has to be pre-approved by a council of Mullahs, it may well be that we have finally found the true “Taliban Wing” of the Republican Party. Thankfully, it’s pretty darn small – Hagel being the lone member I’ve found, so far.

notropis on January 31, 2013 at 2:24 PM

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is part of an “elected, legitimate government.” So were Hitler’s storm troopers.

Colony14 on January 31, 2013 at 2:25 PM

Hagel responded, “I have a difficult enough time with American politics,

My goodness Chuck, your nomination is dead in the water if rational folks get to decide. How can a anyone seeking to be the Secretary of Defense be willingly oblivious to the very politics of America’s enemies? How do you win, if you don’t know what motivates them, what politics can be used to win, or divide them, or if you’re among them as in Iraq, and Pakistan, how to maneuver, and what segments to trust?
Hint: Brush up on your Chinese, N.Korean, Russian, and never trust the French to back you up.

Don L on January 31, 2013 at 2:37 PM

McCain goes after Hagel on the surge; Update: Hagel says Iranian government “elected … legitimate”

When Graham’s time to question comes up, he’ll say “Chuck, I kinda disagree with you but you have spunk. I like that.”

arnold ziffel on January 31, 2013 at 2:38 PM

Hagel’s biggest problem is that he’s an idiot.

jnelchef on January 31, 2013 at 2:38 PM

“Hagel” is Iranian for “schmuck”.

Little known fact…

kingsjester on January 31, 2013 at 2:40 PM

Jabberwock on January 31, 2013 at 2:07 PM

They are leaving up to the Prog media…no worries!

d1carter on January 31, 2013 at 2:54 PM

According to a new thread over at Ace’s, that shiny new Sen. Cruz might have just ruined Sen. Hagel’s day by finding an interview he did with Al Jazeera where concedes to the questioner’s premise that the U.S. is “the world’s bully”.

Cindy Munford on January 31, 2013 at 2:56 PM

LOL. Hagel crashes and burns and will be confirmed with 88 votes anyway.

ddrintn on January 31, 2013 at 2:57 PM

“Given that Iran, the people — I’m quoting right now from Iran — people of the Middle East, the Muslim region and North Africa, people of these regions hate America from the bottom of their heart,” said Inhofe.

Is this a loaded question or what? Does Inhofe have a scientific poll showing 100% of the people in Iran, the ME and N Africa hate Americans from the bottom of their heart?

antifederalist on January 31, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Is this a loaded question or what? Does Inhofe have a scientific poll showing 100% of the people in Iran, the ME and N Africa hate Americans from the bottom of their heart?

antifederalist on January 31, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Does he need one ?

Jabberwock on January 31, 2013 at 3:07 PM

antifederalist on January 31, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Isn’t he just quoting Iran’s “official” position to Sen. Hagel? I am sure any poll from Iran would have a very high percentage of agreement with that government position, even though they have probably not been polled to begin with.

Cindy Munford on January 31, 2013 at 3:09 PM

O/T:
At least two shot at an Atlanta ‘Middle school”.
Just heard it on Faux.

I won’t use the term ‘mass shooting’ today so as to not anger the HA Semantics Police as I did yesterday..

LegendHasIt on January 31, 2013 at 3:10 PM

According to a new thread over at Ace’s, that shiny new Sen. Cruz might have just ruined Sen. Hagel’s day by finding an interview he did with Al Jazeera where concedes to the questioner’s premise that the U.S. is “the world’s bully”.

Cindy Munford on January 31, 2013 at 2:56 PM

That’s why Obama chose him. That interview was supposed to be a plus.

Jabberwock on January 31, 2013 at 3:11 PM

Jabberwock on January 31, 2013 at 3:07 PM

Yes. Otherwise this would be a baseless allegation.

antifederalist on January 31, 2013 at 3:13 PM

LegendHasIt on January 31, 2013 at 3:10 PM

What in the world is going on, the nuts are nuttier than usual?

Cindy Munford on January 31, 2013 at 3:14 PM

antifederalist on January 31, 2013 at 3:13 PM

I must be missing something, isn’t Sen. Inhofe quoting Iran’s official position? How is Sen. Inhofe responsible for how they arrived at it?

Cindy Munford on January 31, 2013 at 3:16 PM

Video: Defense secretary nominee Sen. Chuck Hagel answers questions on past statements regarding Iran during confirmation hearings – @AP

30 mins ago from http://www.youtube.com by editor

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ps7l6mfxKHY

canopfor on January 31, 2013 at 3:17 PM

Cindy Munford on January 31, 2013 at 3:14 PM

I can’t answer that question without being certain that all readers have at least two layers of tin foil hat on.

LegendHasIt on January 31, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Yes. Otherwise this would be a baseless allegation.

antifederalist on January 31, 2013 at 3:13 PM

You’re talking about Washington DC and our “leaders”.
They use “baseless allegations” on each other on a daily bases. Why should a foreign country, whose leaders refer to us as “The Great Satan” deserve something more ?

Jabberwock on January 31, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Jabberwock on January 31, 2013 at 3:11 PM

I might agree if the interview had taken place when W was CIC but it happened in 2009. I guess he could say that Obama has since changed course.

Cindy Munford on January 31, 2013 at 3:23 PM

Jabberwock on January 31, 2013 at 3:20 PM

It’s a Paulnut “thang”.

kingsjester on January 31, 2013 at 3:24 PM

LegendHasIt on January 31, 2013 at 3:18 PM

I don’t know about that but I waiting for one of shooters to survive and sue because he managed to get a firearm.

Cindy Munford on January 31, 2013 at 3:27 PM

They just released the identity of the guy who shot the people in Glendale (AZ) yesterday:

17 year old, according to Shemp Smith on Fox.

LegendHasIt on January 31, 2013 at 3:33 PM

If Hagel got both surges so flat-out wrong, what does that say about his judgment as the man in charge of the nation’s defense? And what does that say about the man who nominated Hagel, too?

I actually think the surge was a waste of time and nothing but a smoke and mirrors show because the whole Iraq rebuilding and democracy project was an idiotic enterprise. It was a waste of lives, money and time and did little to help America, but did help the Chinese and Iranians out a great deal. If I was being asked the question by McCain I would have told him flat out that he will be seen as being wrong from the long view of history. SO I don’t disagree with Hagel on that….however…

The Islamist regime in Iran, Hagel said, was “an elected, legitimate government, whether we agree or not.”

LOL! Yes…hmmmm….I am not sure how to respond to that, just that whatever you do walk away and don’t make eye contact with Hagel…he is no longer in our rational world anymore. In fact he might be a prime example of someone who should not have access to firearms….:)

William Eaton on January 31, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Brit Hume ✔ @brithume

It’s probably dawning on Sens. who didn’t serve w/Hagel that he’s just not very bright. Exchange w/McCain unresponsive & bumbling.

Jim Jennings @jjenningswilmet

@brithume Obama doesn’t need brains, he needs obedience and he has it in Hagel. #DestructivePOTUS

Jonathan S. Tobin @TobinCommentary

So far GOP hasn’t been very effective against #Hagel. But his answers have been even worse. Bumbling & incoherent.

Eric @eriContrarian

I don’t think Chuck Hagel hates Jews, I just think he’s a bumbling idiot that isn’t qualified for this job.

Nathan Wurtzel @NathanWurtzel

I don’t want any Israel hater as SoD, but a bigger problem is Hagel simply isn’t up to this job, period.

Philip Klein @philipaklein

Policy disagreements aside, Hagel just isn’t coming across as somebody who would be a competent Secretary of Defense.

Ben Domenech @bdomenech

As I said from the beginning, the problem with Hagel isn’t Israel – it’s that he’s not very bright, and he’s a dick about it.

Dennis Polyblank @dpoly1

@brithume Hagel would fit in nicely with the rest of the #BumblingIdiotRegime #TGDN

Charles C. W. Cooke @charlescwcooke

I haven’t said a single world about Hagel since this whole thing started, but my overriding impression today is that he’s not that bright.

Tony Phyrillas @TonyPhyrillas

@brithume “Just not very bright” could describe almost anyone in the Obama administration.

OUCH! OUCH!! OUCH!!!

Resist We Much on January 31, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Could’ve been worse. He could’ve taken off his clothes and taken a dump in front of the senators.

kwbrownie2003 on January 31, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Panetta is an amiable dunce.

Hagel is a malicious dunce.

Hagel fits Obama much better.

Schadenfreude on January 31, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Could’ve been worse. He could’ve taken off his clothes and taken a dump in front of the senators.

kwbrownie2003 on January 31, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Well…metaphorically speaking…you could say he already did.

But…literally speaking…at least we were spared that.

Lily on January 31, 2013 at 5:02 PM

Seems Ed didn’t deem it worthy of an ‘UPDATE’ – but Hagel managed to get his response (below) in later…after McCain wouldn’t let him with the ‘yes or no!’ rant:

“In the surge case in Iraq, we lost almost 1,200 dead Americans during that surge, and thousands of wounded,” he continued. “Now, was it required? Was it necessary? Sen. McCain has his own opinion on that, shared by others. I’m not sure. I’m not that certain it was required.

As solid answer.
It’s absurd to suggest hindsight allows one to be 100% sure what was decided was the only possible approach – and that only one outcome was possible. Despite the squealing and table pounding from the Iraq War apologist McCain, Hagel came out on top here.

verbaluce on January 31, 2013 at 5:26 PM

If Hagel were nominated by a rightie president the left would wet all their clothes, and then some.

Schadenfreude on January 31, 2013 at 5:29 PM

As solid answer.
It’s absurd to suggest hindsight allows one to be 100% sure what was decided was the only possible approach – and that only one outcome was possible. Despite the squealing and table pounding from the Iraq War apologist McCain, Hagel came out on top here.

verbaluce on January 31, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Sure it was and he did, verbacoochie.

arnold ziffel on January 31, 2013 at 5:31 PM

verbaluce on January 31, 2013 at 5:26 PM

The liberals are piling on Hagel too, FYI:

hagel’s making biden look rhetorically sure-footed

— Peter Beinart (@PeterBeinart) January 31, 2013

this hearing is beginning to remind me of the 1st Obama-Romney debate

— Peter Beinart (@PeterBeinart) January 31, 2013

This Hagel hearing is a disaster.

— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) January 31, 2013

Certainly seems like it on twitter RT @buzzfeedandrew This Hagel hearing is a disaster.

— AdamSerwer (@AdamSerwer) January 31, 2013

I think Hagel is engaged now in Jewsplaining.

— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) January 31, 2013

Hagel has written chapters on Iraq and on the Middle East. So we’re cool.

— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) January 31, 2013

Did Hagel just call Iran’s government “elected and legitimate”?

— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) January 31, 2013

Hagel is floundering through one policy answer after another. IRGC terrorism, Iraq surge, nukes.

— attackerman (@attackerman) January 31, 2013

“I support the president’s strong position on containment. I think that’s right.” Um, you meant prevention, right #Hagel?

— attackerman (@attackerman) January 31, 2013

#Hagel just stumbled over whether Iran govt is “legitimate” or “elected.” Fodder for oppo

— Ron Kampeas (@kampeas) January 31, 2013

Yikes, now he said he “supports the president’s position on containment.” #Hagel

— Ron Kampeas (@kampeas) January 31, 2013

Watching Hagel stumbling at Senate hearing. Recalling Brennan gaffes after Abbottabad. DoD and CIA not in best of hands, alas.

— Ed Husain (@Ed_Husain) January 31, 2013

Basically, Hagel does not seem very sharp.

— Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) January 31, 2013

Hagel not particularly swift on his feet. Missed opportunity to push back vs. McCain. “Senator, you want another war in the Middle East?”

— Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) January 31, 2013

Hagel is a little awkward here

— Max Fisher (@Max_Fisher) January 31, 2013

Sen. Hagel’s confirmation hearing performance was brilliant. #slatepitches

— Josh Greenman (@joshgreenman) January 31, 2013

Not impressed by Hagel so far. This is one of the toughest jobs in govt. He needs to do better.

— Tom Wright (@thomaswright08) January 31, 2013

Chuck Schick on January 31, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Ouch!!! Cruz is creating a huge wake in the quiet senate port.

DanMan on January 31, 2013 at 5:45 PM

Sure…the obvious is indignant.

Schadenfreude on January 31, 2013 at 5:48 PM

Just remember this. No matter how tough the questioning, no matter how evasive or erroneous the responses, the Senate by a margin of 97-3 confirmed John Kerry as Secretary of State.

madmonkphotog on January 31, 2013 at 5:55 PM

The Worst 80 Seconds of Chuck Hagel’s Hearing

Jan 31 2013

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_Xab2X_Yik&feature=youtu.be

canopfor on January 31, 2013 at 5:58 PM

The Worst 80 Seconds of Chuck Hagel’s Hearing

Jan 31 2013

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_Xab2X_Yik&feature=youtu.be

canopfor on January 31, 2013 at 5:58 PM

Erudite and logic are strong characteristics for him.

arnold ziffel on January 31, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Fellows I dislike asking questions of a loser.

This is our government.

Sherman1864 on January 31, 2013 at 6:23 PM

canopfor on January 31, 2013 at 5:58 PM

Erudite and logic are strong characteristics for him.

arnold ziffel on January 31, 2013 at 6:15 PM

arnold ziffel::O

canopfor on January 31, 2013 at 6:42 PM

McCain goes after Hagel on the surge

…bet you that as you read this…Senator Senile has already forgotten what he went after Hagel for!

KOOLAID2 on January 31, 2013 at 10:34 PM

(McCain shows moments of lucidity as he grills “Forrest Gump”-Hagel).

If they confirm this bumbling fool, does that mean Nebraska can have a do-over? This is all really Nebraska’s fault, isn’t it?

This entire confirmation could be compressed to one question:

“Do you have any expertise or background for this position?”

To which he replies:

“Er, um, No, I …uh …am a senator.”

“Good point, Senator Hagel, and congratulations!”

virgo on February 1, 2013 at 2:23 AM

Why does our Supreme Court sit idly by watching this dog and pony show of an administration and do nothing? Our President gives jet fighters to an enemy that swears to kill America, a flagrant act of treason. Congress too, making up 2/3 rds. of our government, watching this circus. Our Constitution has been run through the shredder but what’s important to the politicians is the elections and staying in office. I give up!

mixplix on February 1, 2013 at 5:32 AM

Hagel: Ahmadinejed and Obama’s choice for Sec Def!

AshleyTKing on February 2, 2013 at 12:30 AM

Even Progressive Woodrow Wilson would have rejected the very idea that Iran’s Mullahocracy is legitimate.

AshleyTKing on February 2, 2013 at 12:32 AM

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