Chuck Hagel was nominated for the Secretary of Defense position by President Barack Obama. In 2008, Hagel did not endorse a presidential candidate between Barack Obama and, at least for a while friend, John McCain. But his wife, did support Barack Obama. Hagel would be the first enlisted combat veteran to become defense secretary, if he gets it. A lot of Republican Senators have said that they will not support Hagel for Defense Secretary or at least, make it difficult. Why are they fighting his nomination so much?
Mitch McConnell when Chuck Hagel left the Senate, "[Hagel is] a clear voice on foreign policy and national security."
Mitch McConnell on Meet the Press, "I think there will be a lot of tough questions for Sen. Hagel, but he will be treated fairly by Republicans in the Senate. The question we will be answering if he's the nominee is 'do his views make sense for that particular job?'"
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called Hagel an "in your face nomination."
Newly elected Republican Senator Ted Cruz criticized Barack Obama's nomination and is "concerned" about Hagel's past statements.
The Log Cabin Republicans took out a full page ad criticizing Hagel for making homophobic slurs by calling a former Bill Clinton ambassador, "openly, agrressively gay."
You would think about these statements that Hagel is some type of extremist liberal nominee. But here's the thing, he's not, really. Hagel voted in 2002 in support of the Iraq war. He voted for tying up the funds for the war with bringing the troops back home. He everntually turned on the war, even more. He said,“We cannot stay as an occupying force in the Middle East, which is essentially what we are.” Hagel became more of an outspoken critic of the war and even more so, the surge of troops. Hagel voted for the withdrawl of the troops which drew the ire of the more interventionist Republicans and neo-Conservatives.
Hagel's statements about the war and criticisms of the policy for the surge and overall neo-Conservative interventionist foreign policy has led those like Lindsey Graham to state that Hagel's thoughts on foreign policy are not in the mainstream. This despite the fact, that letters from the Bipartisan Group have been written in direct support of Hagel. Perhaps, it is the others who have thoughts outside the mainstream.
On December 13, The Weekly Standard reported that a top Republican Senate aide said, "send us Hagel and we will make sure every American knows he is an anti-Semite." The aide continued, writing, "Hagel has made clear he believes in the existence of a nefarious Jewish lobby that secretly controls U.S. foreign policy. This is the worst kind of anti-Semitism there is." Hagel's full statements can be found here. But what's important, isn't just statements but rather his actions, too. Hagel voted regularly for "generous aid packages" to Israel.
Republicans and neo-Conservatives have also maintained that Hagel is too soft on Iran. That depends on the modifier "too". He is softer on Iran than most Republicans. He's softer on Iran than President Barack Obama is. My guess is they'll meet somewhere in the middle. It's likely that we don't know Hagel's true position on Iran just yet. More likely that we won't know it until the Senate hearings. But it's like The Daily Beast said, “had a Martian descended to earth in January 2003, spent a few days listening to Washington Republicans talk foreign policy, and then returned in January 2013, she would likely conclude that the Iraq War had been a fabulous success.” The question is, is it? If it's not, what lesson can we learn from it?
What about Chuck Hagel's gay rights record? Hagel did call an ambassador, "openly, aggressively gay". A phrase which almost begs a story behind it. But he apologized for it. The gay-activist group, the Human Rights Campaign accepted his apology. The Log Cabin Republicans, meanwhile stated that his apology was too little too late. The Log Cabin Republicans endorsed Mitt Romney in November's election, a move that garnered some controversy among other gay rights groups. The advertisement that criticized Hagel's record on gay rights, included stating that Hagel supported the Defense of Marriage Act. Perhaps, the Log Cabin Republicans forgot that Mitt Romney supported the "Federal Marriage Amendment, a constitutional amendment that would reinforce the Defense of Marriage Act and define marriage across the United States as a union between a man and a woman." Or when other gay activist groups stated that Romney was worse than George W. Bush because Romney didn't even support civil unions. The president of the group told the Huffington Post that Romney's support for the amendment was an "empty promise." Overall the group decided to endorse Mitt Romney because of the "gravity of the economic and national security issues currently at stake." So, what the fuck, Log Cabin Republicans? Seriously, what the fuck? You endorsed Mitt Romney because, well, I have no idea. At least, we'll know for sure in 5 years that the Log Cabin Republicans support Hagel because, after all, as recently as 2007, they ran negative ads about Mitt Romney, too.