Hagel's host for 2007 Rutgers speech linked to Iranian front group

Hard for me to believe that this will pull the Senate back from the brink of confirming him if Hagel’s own mumblings about the “Jewish lobby” and prior opposition to Iran sanctions haven’t done so already. There’s no claim that he took money for his speech from the Rutgers group that sponsored him; the DC says that’s “unlikely” given the Senate’s ban on honoraria. And we already knew that he’s a useful idiot when it comes to Iran. Inhofe, in fact, asked him point blank at the start of his confirmation hearing why he thought Tehran supported his nomination, as if that was unclear given Hagel’s policy preferences. Besides, being friendly with Hamas supporters is no obstacle to higher office in American politics. We elected a guy president twice who fits that description, remember?

But yeah, useful idiot. Just a little more useful than thought:

A pro-Hezbollah, pro-Hamas candidate for the Iranian presidency, a man linked to Iranian-controlled front groups, brought former Republican Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel to speak at Rutgers University in 2007, according to another professor on campus…

A press release in 2007 noted that the “Rutgers Center for Middle Eastern Studies” — Amirahmadi’s campus group – ”is hosting the senator’s visit to the university.”

Amirahmadi’s CV discloses that he has received financial support from the Alavi Foundation, a wealthy organization that the U.S. government has called “a front for the government of Iran.”…

As early as 2008, Amirahmadi was revealed to be a supporter of the Iranian regime who received its backing. He traveled to Tehran to ask for additional support from the government, telling the government-funded newspaper Etemad on November 12, 2008 that “there is a clash between various regional [Middle East] lobbies. Israelites will gather around Obama. Arabs will also spend their money to get close to Obama. Iranian rights are [the] subject of unkind hostility in Tehran.”

That was the same speech at which Hagel allegedly mused about the State Department being controlled by Israel’s foreign ministry, a claim he naturally now denies. According to Michael Rubin, his host Amirahmadi once told an Iranian paper, “The problem of terrorism is a true myth. Iran has not been involved with any terrorist organization. Neither Hezbollah, nor Hamas are terrorist organizations….” Go figure that a guy like that would want a guy who voted against designating the IRGC a terrorist organization as a guest speaker.

Maybe the drip-drip-drip of stories like this will finally convince enough Senate Democrats that he’s not worth the trouble anymore; that’s been the whole point of the GOP’s delay strategy, after all, and there’s anecdotal evidence to believe it might be working. But in that case, what on earth was McCain doing on “Meet the Press” yesterday encouraging Hagel supporters by insisting that Republicans shouldn’t hold up Hagel’s nomination any longer — even though, by Maverick’s own admission, he’s unqualified? If McCain’s serious about that, then he’s the 60th vote for cloture; more than that, his support for ending the filibuster provides enormous political cover to skittish Dems who might otherwise be ready to end this. But then, if you believe Politico, McCain has always been prepared to be the 60th vote. Graham reportedly talked him into voting no last week so that Graham would have another week of tough talk during the recess with which to impress conservatives back home before his 2014 reelection bid. And wouldn’t you know it, now even Graham sounds like he’s softening up.

Exit question: Is anyone on any side of this debate still excited about Hagel being confirmed except Obama himself? Hawks disdain him, liberals are indifferent bordering on exasperated, and libertarians and paleocons are disgusted by the pandering he did at his hearing and by his not-so-isolationist voting record. Everyone’s alienated. No wonder the Great Divider still likes him.