Obama to pick Hagel after all, fight loomsfight the nomination.
White House officials and sources close to Hagel declined to confirm to The Cable that Hagel is the president's choice to be the replace Leon Panetta at the helm of the Pentagon, but several sources close to the process said have told The Cable that the White House and Hagel have been in touch on a regular basis and that Hagel is indeed the expected pick. Decisions about the timing and logistics of the announcement are being finalized now.
The Cable had previously confirmed that Hagel successfully complete the vetting process, as have Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter and former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy.
Meanwhile, Hagel's detractors are moving forward with their campaign against the nomination, which has been expanding ever since The Cable first reported in November that Hagel was in consideration for the Pentagon post. That campaign has included anonymous Senate aides calling Hagel an anti-Semite, the Washington Post editorial board writing that, "Chuck Hagel is not the right choice for defense secretary," and the Emergency Committee for Israel, which counts among its board members Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, running a television ad criticizing Hagel's opposition to unilateral sanctions against Iran. "For secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel is not a responsible option," the ad claims.
"Even if one left aside Chuck Hagel's dangerous views on Iran and his unpleasant distaste for Israel and Jews, a dispassionate analyst would have to conclude that the case for Hagel is extraordinarily weak," Kristol wrote in an editorial Friday, in which he urged Obama to choose Carter, Flournoy, or Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.
The Log Cabin Republicans took out a full page ad in the New York Times to oppose the potential Hagel nomination. Following the publication of the ad, the leader of the group, R. Clarke Cooper, resigned in what he stated was a previously planned departure. He had previously expressed support for Hagel. Cooper and Hagel are both combat veterans.
Three Senate Republicans have come out firmly against Hagel's potential nomination, Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Dan Coats (R-IN), and Tom Coburn (R-OK). Cornyn said he can't vote for Hagel due to Hagel's "problem with Israel." Coats said Hagel "has had so much disrespect for the military." Coburn said Hagel "does not have the experience to manage a very large organization like the Pentagon."
Other GOP senators have expressed reservations about Hagel without committing to a no vote. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who previously praised Hagel as a close and dear friend,
suggested recently that Hagel is not a real Republican. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), said on Fox News Sunday, "There would be very little Republican support for his nomination. At the end of the day, there will be very few votes."
Today's Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) gave the following statement about the potential Hagel nomination to The Cable:
"I appreciate and respect Senator Hagel's record of service to our country, especially as a decorated combat veteran," Kirk said. "While he has not yet been nominated, I am concerned about his past record and statements, particularly with regard to Iran and the U.S.-Israel relationship. Should he be nominated to serve as Secretary of Defense, I will join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in a rigorous examination of these and other issues of concern."What bothers me about this report is that it depicts the Hagel fight as a partisan one. It ought not to be partisan. Democratic Senators who (claim to) support Israel, or who (claim to) support strong sanctions against Iran - like Schumer (NY), Menendez (NJ) and others ought to be up in arms against this nomination. That's where the pressure from constituents needs to play a role.
This nomination ought to end the way Chas Freeman's nomination ended - in ignominious disgrace. America is not a leftist country.
UPDATE 8:37 AM
Interesting comment from reader David O that I'd like to share with you (I got it by email):
I think documenting the case against Hagel will pay dividends. It will effectively neuter him. Everybody will be closely watching him for his attitudes toward Jews, gays, arabs, and especially Israel. A person who is an anti-semite without a paper trail(i.e. Jimmy Carter when he was running for President in '76)is more dangerous than a Hagel in this context. Each gaffe and statement will be scrutinized. It could backfire against Obama. Israel and the United States have a strong defense relationship. This is not Turkey where the the populace is hostile.That would be really neat to watch. Heh.
The nominating process will be interesting. Watching Hagel squirm about Israel, being forced to play up his zionist credentials. This is why a Hillary was more dangerous than Hagel. Hillary is "perceived" as a friend of Israel. Hagel is known as a foe. He will be forced to watch each and every step he takes. How can Obama proclaim he has Israel's back if Hagel's future actions/statements contradict "official" policy.One final and VERY IMPORTANT point. In all of my research on Hagel, the one thing that was surprising was his staff turnover. He would yell and call people incompetent f***ers and replace staff every two weeks. This type of bull in the china shop mentality tends to blow up in the Washington Culture of PC career minded types who like to leak about fights, intrigue and explosions which maine their bosses. He may explode and implode at the same time.