Well, let it never be said that politicians are smarter than voters, especially when it comes to judging character.
In a new Pew poll we see defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel is getting more unpopular as voters get to know him:
Unfavorable opinions of Chuck Hagel have increased over the past month as he has faced a bruising confirmation battle to become President Obama’s secretary of defense. A national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Feb. 14-17 among 1,003 adults, finds that 22% have a favorable opinion of Hagel while 28% have an unfavorable view; 50% express no opinion about the former Nebraska GOP senator.
A month ago, shortly after his nomination, opinions about Hagel were divided: 18% had a favorable view, 17% an unfavorable opinion and nearly two-thirds (65%) had no opinion. Over this period, the percentage holding a very unfavorable opinion of Hagel has nearly doubled – from 7% to 13%.
This is no doubt a result of his disastrously incompetent hearing performance and the plethora of anti-Israel comments that have come to light. The American people are overwhelmingly pro-Israel; anyone with a brain can see that Hagel is anything but.
Then we see Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) who confesses he got won over by tears in Hagel’s eyes. No, I’m serious. (Sen. Mitch McConnell, can you fake tears as well as Hagel?). The tale itself may be entirely fictional, but Schumer’s confession is painfully real and unintentionally humiliating:
“He struck me as sincere, and, you know, you have to be sitting there at the meeting obviously, but I also told him when he used the word Jewish lobby what it meant to Jewish people,” he added.
“And I told him what a double standard is. That Jewish people throughout the centuries have suffered a double standard. Everyone could be a farmer except Jewish people. Everyone could live in Moscow except Jewish people. I said when everyone else can lobby but all of a sudden when those of us who are pro-Israel lobby, it’s a negative, that’s a double standard. And I’m sure you didn’t mean it, but it harkens to the old days.
“And he really, you know, he almost had tears in his eyes when he understood. So I believe he will be good.”
Really, that’s all it takes to win Schumer over? A shomer, one would think, would have more common sense and vigilance than that.
Then he verges into fantasyland, saying the opposition to Hagel is about Iraq. Huh!? Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), an opponent of the Iraq war, voted for a filibuster (not merely no) because Hagel has been hiding the ball on his speeches and funding sources. A slew of other Republicans who witnessed his hearing performance found him to be unfit for duty. A number found his testimony about his Global Zero proposal to be disingenuous. Democratic commentators confessed Hagel’s confirmation was a train wreck. And numerous Jewish organizations, including the American Jewish Committee, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League, have deplored his anti-Israel and anti-Jewish rhetoric. Schumer’s claim about the basis for the opposition is as preposterous as his claim to be Israel’s best ally.
Really, Schumer shows an appalling lack of curiosity about the drip, drip of new speeches slurring Israel — which Hagel hid from the Armed Services Committee — and his funding. He doesn’t seem bothered by Hagel’s confusion on Iran or his declaration that he won’t be “running anything.” But then again, Hagel cried. So Schumer is good to go.
What a disgrace.
Update (2:20 p.m.): Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) sent a letter to Chuck Hagel today, asking whether he had made the reported comments (or anything like them) that “Israel has violated every UN resolution since 1967, that Israel has violated its agreements with the quartet, that it was risking becoming an apartheid state if it didn’t allow the Palestinians to form a state, … that the settlements were getting close to the point where a contiguous Palestinian state would be impossible … that Netanyahu was a radical … [and] that Hamas has to be brought in to any peace negotiation.” Moreover, Graham by no means has given up on seeking the financial information Hagel so far has refused to provide. His communications director Kevin Bishop tells Right Turn, “We eagerly await his response to our inquiries.”
UPDATE II (3:15 p.m.): Apparently there is yet another speech out there that Hagel did not disclose. The host, Cameron University in Oklahoma, requires Hagel’s content to release a speech given in 2011, consent that has not apparently been forthcoming. At some point the lack of candor and completeness in his response to the committee becomes an issue unto itself.