By Greg Campbell
Yesterday, the confirmation hearing took place for former Senator Chuck Hagel, who has been nominated for the Secretary of Defense position. In a rare instance of bi-partisanship, many political pundits on both the right and left have agreed that Hagel’s confirmation hearing did not go well for the former Senator who has been awash in controversy since being picked for the coveted high position.
Politico’s Tim Mak recounted the rocky confirmation hearing and wrote,
“Chuck Hagel stumbled Thursday during questioning on Iran, inadvertently saying the Obama administration supports ‘containment’ and calling the country an ‘elected legitimate government.’
‘I support the president’s strong position on containment, as I have said,’ the former Republican senator from Nebraska told the Senate Armed Services Committee considering his nomination for Defense secretary…
Later, Hagel, who was being questioned by Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), was passed a note informing him of his mistake, and he offered a correction.
‘I misspoke and said I supported the president’s position on containment. If I said that, I meant to say we don’t have a position on containment,’ Hagel said….
Asked about Hagel’s remarks at the White House, press secretary Jay Carney said, ‘The fact is we judge Iran on its behavior. They are consistently in violation of their United Nations obligations, their international obligations, and because of that they are enduring the most intense sanctions regime in history.’
In addressing Iran, Hagel said that the country was ‘a member of the United Nations. Almost all of our allies have embassies in Iran … [It is] an elected, legitimate government, whether we agree or not.’”
Hagel has been the focus of massive criticism from the right and has even incurred some criticism from the left. His stance on Iran and their acquiring of nuclear weapons has been of massive concern for leaders in recent years. However, critics have pointed to Hagel’s soft stance on Iran and have remarked on his stances that have appeared to be anti-Israel.
In a 2006 interview, Hagel expressed that he was not afraid of the “Jewish lobby,” and has expressed sympathies for the Palestinians by saying, ”What I fear more today is that desperate men do desperate things when you take hope away. And that’s where the Palestinians are today.”
However, despite his poor performance at the confirmation hearing, many are speculating that Hagel will be confirmed, if nothing else, by President Obama’s pushing of Hagel as Secretary of Defense.
“It is clear that Hagel’s success is critically important to the Obama administration, which seems to have guided his pre-hearing visits with Senate critics and Jewish organizations, and used the Pentagon to lobby hard for his confirmation. The opening statement by two former Senate Armed Services Committee chairs, the bipartisan duo of Sam Nunn (D-GA) and John Warner (R-VA), was well orchestrated–though Warner’s prediction that Hagel’s own opening statement would answer every objection may have set expectations he could not possibly meet.
It is precisely because this nomination is so important to the White House, and the radical foreign policy it wishes to assert, that Hagel is still likely to win confirmation. The vote will not be about Hagel; it will be about Obama, and the current crop of Democrats has shown little will to dissent from the presidential line. But there is no way, partisan loyalty aside, that any reasonable person could watch Hagel’s performance and still vote ‘yes.’ His past service may qualify him for many high government positions. Secretary of Defense–clearly–is not one of them.”