Chuck the key to Chuck?Charles "Chuck" Schumer (D-NY) may be the key to whether Chuck Hagel's nomination to be US Secretary of Defense gets through the US Senate.
Chuck Schumer is quietly letting out the word: He’s far from sold that Chuck Hagel will be a staunch advocate of Israel.
And it’s his vote that counts.
Schumer, the most powerful Jewish Democrat in Congress, has been noncommittal in his public statements on Hagel’s nomination. But privately, several sources say he has told senators it would be “very hard” for him to support Hagel as the next defense secretary because of his positions on Israel over the years. In New York, Schumer has told allies and power brokers in the Jewish community that he’s uneasy about Hagel’s nomination, a concern he reiterated at a private breakfast in Manhattan’s posh Park Avenue Winter restaurant on Wednesday.
If Schumer were to oppose Hagel, it would almost certainly amount to a fatal blow to his candidacy since a number of pro-Israel Democrats who are squeamish about the nominee could very well be influenced by the No. 3 Democrat’s position. It would also give bipartisan political cover to Republicans and neocons fighting Hagel’s nomination.
Still, Schumer could also provide critical support for Hagel’s nomination. Should he support Hagel, it very likely would ride on what the former Nebraska GOP senator eventually says on Israel at an upcoming one-on-one meeting with the New York Democrat and during his confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Schumer declined to be interviewed Thursday for this story. The White House also declined to comment.Read the whole thing.
The New York Times reports that Hagel will not have a lot of allies in the Senate.
His three closest friends from his years as a Republican senator from Nebraska, 1997 to 2009, are either no longer members or in no position to help. One is the vice president, Joseph R. Biden Jr. Another, Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, limped out of the Capitol this month after being defeated for re-election in a Republican primary.
The third, Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, faces his own proceedings to be secretary of state.
Kerry is unfortunately regarded as a shoe-in. I have to wonder if John Brennan at the CIA can still be defeated.Of the senators who will ultimately sit in judgment, 42 never served a day with Mr. Hagel. The ones who remain include powerful Republicans who clashed repeatedly with him over what was the singular issue of the time: the American invasion of Iraq and its bloody aftermath.And in Washington, apostasy from within a party can leave far deeper scars than the routine clashes between the parties.