Is Hagel toast?
On Monday, Commentary's Alana Goodman reported that Hagel sits on the board of Chevron, which is apparently a serial human rights violator.
Hagel joined the board in the spring of 2010, when Chevron was reportedly in negotiations with the repressive government in Turkmenistan. Shortly after, Hagel was confronted about this at a shareholder meeting by an environmentalist group called Crude Accountability.
“Senator Hagel, as a new board member, you have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to raise the bar for corporate responsibility in the Caspian to a level that is in accordance with the Chevron Way, for starters, but more importantly, in accordance with international law and practice,” said Crude Accountability’s Michelle Kinman, according to a statement posted on the group’s website. “Senator Hagel, are you prepared to insist that your company take a principled stance in favor of human rights in Turkmenistan today?”\
According to Crude Accountability, Hagel did not respond to the question....
No word yet on whether Crude Accountability followed up with a letter, or whether Hagel wrote back. I contacted the organization and will post when I get a reply. But according to Reuters, Chevron was still pursuing a deal to develop Turkmenistan’s natural gas reserves as recently as last month.
This isn’t the first time the company has been criticized for its involvement with repressive regimes.The fact that the White House isn't exactly rushing to his defense is another indication that Hagel's nomination may never happen.
“What I can tell you is that Sen. Hagel fought and bled for his country,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters last week, refusing to comment on specific criticisms. “He served his country well. He was an excellent senator.”
But unlike Susan Rice, who withdrew her name for consideration to head the State Department amid Republican criticism of her statements after the Benghazi attack in September, Hagel is all on his own, making an organized and forceful defense from the Obama administration even more necessary.
Other Democrats who have indicated their support for Hagel have also backed away in recent days. BuzzFeed emailed no fewer than five backers about the anemic state of the Hagel defense, all declined to comment or didn’t respond.
One Democratic operative called the silence “telling.”
“I've been talking with a lot of Democrats about Hagel and it's clear that the White House is not making the ask for the heavy lift on this front,” the operative said. “Sounds like they're moving on and leaving the Hagel loyalists to defend their man alone.”
A long time democratic insider echoed that point, saying it was clear that Obama was moving away from Hagel. White House officials refuse to comment on potential personnel moves.But the best news of all from the failure of Hagel's nomination may be for Israel. Caroline Glick writes that the failure of the Hagel nomination shows that it is possible to fight Obama on foreign policy during his second term. And all will be well. All will be well.
Oh yeah, there's a new problem for Hagel here.