It has to be hard to be someone like Chuck Hagel. I wouldn’t be able to do what he’s doing. It is clear that he is extremely well qualified for the job of Secretary of Defense. But all of the Republican senatorial carping at him was too much. The big moment in the hearing was when John McCain wanted a “yes or no” answer to whether Hagel was wrong to predict that the surge in Iraq would be the biggest foreign policy mistake since the Vietnam War. Hagel wouldn’t answer because he said it was more complicated than that.
Fair enough, but my answer would have been different. “What does my prediction about one part of the Iraq War have to do with anything? I may have been wrong about the surge, but I wasn’t nearly so wrong as when I originally supported the war. The problem with you is that you refuse to admit that the Iraq War was wrong, that tens of thousands of people died for no good reason. So I suppose the surge not being a total fiasco is the one thing you are hanging onto; you were wrong about everything else. You know, I was the co-chair of your 2000 campaign and you treat me like this? You have no honor, senator. None at all.” Of course, what I would have said would have been more “colorful,” if you know what I mean.
Senator Inhofe asked Hagel why the “Iranian foreign ministry so strongly supports your nomination.” I would not have have taken kindly to that question. “I realize that there is substantial cognitive degeneration past the age of 70, but you really should try to get your facts straight. The Iranian foreign ministry has done no such thing. But I suspect that they are generally happy at the idea that we aren’t going to have more people in this administration that are just itching for a war with Iran. Unlike you, I’ve actually fought in a war. I know the stakes and I will serve this country with honor as I always have. You perhaps should retire where your cognitive dysfunction won’t embarrass you or the country.”
Most of the time at the hearing was spent complaining that Hagel wasn’t pro-Israel enough. “Senators, your constant screams of support for Israel do not make the country safer. In fact, I often wonder how much you all support Israel as opposed to just wanting to appear as though you do. I have been a steadfast supporter of Israel, but that doesn’t mean that I think the country always does the right thing. No Israeli thinks Israel always does the right thing. I’m not itching for a War—for the United States or for Israel. I think you all are and thus I think you all are no friends of Israel.”
But it didn’t go like that. Hagel mostly just took it politely. He also went back on factually true statements. It’s sad. But I hope more than ever that he gets confirmed. The Republicans embarrassed themselves. Again.