With President Obama’s nomination of former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel as defense secretary Monday, Republicans in Congress and influential individuals in conservative circles are pressing ahead with their efforts to block Hagel’s appointment.
In the East Room of the White House, Obama called Hagel “the leader that our troops deserve” and a “champion” of the troops, military veterans and families.
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“Chuck knows that war is not an abstraction,” Obama said.
But prominent conservatives are hammering away at what they see as the former senator’s highly problematic record on Israel, anti-Semitism, Iran, Syria, terrorism and his general reluctance to use military force.
“He’s certainly been outspoken in foreign policy and defense over the years,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on ABC’s “This Week.” He added: “The question we’ll be answering, if he’s the nominee, is: Do his views make sense for that particular job? I think he ought to be given a fair hearing, like any other nominee. And he will be.”
Less even-handedly, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) signaled that Hagel will receive no Republican support in the nomination process, adding that Hagel “has long severed his ties with the Republican Party.”
Graham also asserted that, ”This is an ‘in your face’ nomination by the president to all of us who are supportive of Israel,” adding, ”It looks like the second term of Barack Obama is going to be an ‘in your face’ term.”
“Quite frankly, Chuck Hagel is out of the mainstream of thinking, I believe, on most issues regarding foreign policy,” he said.
But some in conservative circles who do not have to remain reserved aren’t.
Writing at the American Enterprise Institute blog, AEI Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy Studies Danielle Pletka had this to say on the matter.
Despite strong bipartisan opposition (bipartisanship!), Barack Obama has reportedly decided to plunge ahead and nominate former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense. Plenty of ink has been spilled, and more will come on the Senator’s track record, his antipathy toward Israel and Jews, his hostility toward homosexuals, his worldview, his anti-semitic pals, his desire to huddle with Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorists to be named later. Doubtless the Senate Armed Services Committee will also investigate Hagel’s peripatetic career at the Atlantic Council, his track record as a manager while in the Senate, and what he knew and didn’t know as Chair of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
Pletka and the AEI foreign policy team also gave a preview of some of the tough questions Hagel can expect as he moves to a confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee.