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Does Floating Hagel Balloon Show Obama’s Posture Towards Iran?

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This Real News Network interview with Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies looks at the significance of the surfacing of Chuck Hagel as a candidate to run the Department of Defense. Hagel is an interesting choice because he believes in cutting defense spending and in communicating with all of our actual and designated bad guys, including Iran. The latter view has made him an official target of AIPAC.

Bennis also points out that the way Obama allowed Susan Rice to be thrown under the bus didn’t just damage her, but Obama himself, and that if he does the same with Hagel, it would further the impression of weakness.


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44 comments

  1. Element

    Do a quick search on Hagel and Jewish you find host of jewish ‘journalists’ painting him as a major bogey-man. Apparently only jews should be selecting and vetting all US appointees. Can’t imagine how that nonsense ever came about. Any other country would be loudly and pointedly told to shut the hell up and mind their damn business.

    But I guess that’s what happens when they own the global main stream media. They just smear and warp anything and anyone they don’t like. It just looks a wee bit like collective prejudice and tainted non-journalism that’s about as far from objective and unbaised as you could possibly get.

    http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=297444

    Best thing they could do is shutup and stop the incessant smearing of non-jews in non jewish states, and quit praising zionist-sychophants and their favored suck-ups, then maybe far fewer people would consider them contemptable interlopers and nefarious meddlers in other countries.

  2. Gerard Pierce

    Hagel gets AIPAC off Obama’s back and temporarily shuts up the neo-cons.

    There is stil a chance that Obama wants to start the war with Iran on his own terms – without looking like he was dragged into it by Netanyahu and William Krystol.

  3. 2

    OT, More official affirmation for the great work done at NC! We noted a bumbling stab at social engineering for surveillance related to an item here. It was endearingly inept, mall-cop level stuff, but people might want to stay aware.

    1. psychohistorian

      So for us thick headed types that know that they have already been listened to by our government, what are you saying and for which posting at NC?

      Please and thank you.

    2. Jackrabbit

      I am writing this to note an objection to my comment
      below. Charles Serano has informed me that ‘Obamabot’
      is not a fair description of Bennis based on her previous
      work (of which I am unfamiliar).

      ============================================
      I probably should not have used that term. I was referring to her apparent belief (expressed in the interview) that Obama really believes in Progressive principals – he is just held back by political realities. That this faith in Obama is likely misplaced has been noted on NC many times.

      ============================================
      If you care to, you can read the discussion in the thread below.

      Please comment THERE, so that this comment remains as close to my original comment as possible.

  4. Jackrabbit

    What am I missing about this interview?

    1:06 … the kind of treatment that even Susan Rice didn’t face.
    This remark seems to indicate a pre-occupation with partisan politics, where only the volume of criticism from the other side is what matters, not what they are saying.

    If Susan Rice’s experience is relevant (mostly because it is so recent) it is the question of what is Obama’s intention in floating a candidate that could be expected to be criticized by powerful constituencies. For Susan Rice, it seemed to be a ‘reward’ for service – but the masterful press manipulation showed that it was really a lightening rod that helped to ‘turn the page’ from the Benghazi mess.

    ===>And what about the fact that Hagel’s name is floated during ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations where automatic cuts could be made to the Defense budget? Could taking a ‘dove-ish’ posture be meant as a means of getting the Defense establishment ‘on side’? (signaling that defense cuts will NOT be reversed if the Republicans don’t play ball!)

    ====

    I doubt that most people would say Obama looked weak in not defending Rice. She was never a nominee, so Obama had no obligation to defend her . . . and yet everyone will remember Obama’s remark at the news conference wishing the Republicans would attack him instead of Susan Rice. What a guy!

    Yet, one could well wonder, if she was ever really a serious candidate? They must’ve know that she was a deeply flawed candidate -especially after she had (willingly) gotten herself entangled in the Benghazi mess. And Obama likes to cozy up to powerful people – making Kerry the likely favorite from the start.

    ====

    5:47 …the reality is, we DIDN’T talk to Iran…
    LMFAO. The expectations for ‘Change you can believe in’ die hard.

    Does Bennis’ evident belief in the goodness of Obama qualify her as an Obamabot?

    ====

    6:50 …floated to gauge public opinion [regarding military issues]
    LMFAO (again). Hehe…the old cart before the horse thingy…it never gets old!

    1. charles sereno

      Did earwax impede you from hearing the end of the interview? These are your words — “Does Bennis’ evident belief in the goodness of Obama qualify her as an Obamabot?”
      Give us one bit of evidence of “Bennis’ evident belief in the goodness of Obama” to prove you’re not a troll-a-bot.

      1. Jackrabbit

        I’m not sure what you are referring to at the end that demonstrates that she is not an Obama supporter.

        She apparently believes that Hagel’s nomination reflects Obamas’ true liberal/progressive nature. She backs this up by making the case that:
        1) Hagel is the most moderate candidate that is realistically available (using Kucinich as a srawman); and
        2) Obama chose Hagel after his Rice ‘float’ failed (thereby Obama must be serious about Hagel and can’t back down from the possible/maybe/rumored nomination).

        She points out that Obama didn’t really negotiate with Iran in his first term (as he had claimed he would) … but she believes that in his second term he is free to follow his true liberal/progressive nature (a key tenet of the Obamabots) which involves dialog with all parties.

        It is her apparent partisanship and her faith in the ‘real’ Obama that leads me to wonder about her objectivity.

        ======

        Strangely, Bennis herself claims to have had (good and just) PROGRESSIVE reservations about a _potential_ Rice nomination but she chooses to characterize the failure of the rumored/possible/maybe Rice nomination as ‘throwing Rice under the bus’ rather than a progressive ‘win’. (In my view it was neither.)

        1. Jackrabbit

          Just to be clear. Bennis doesn’t say what her objection to Rice was, just that it wasn’t the same as the Republicans.

          But the Progressive objection, which ostensibly “won out” in the end, is well known (and I am assuming that Bennis shares the Progressive view on Rice).

    2. Jackrabbit

      It seems that MSM has also picked up on the ‘he can’t back down’ message that is supposed to make this potential nomination soooo serious. From Reuters:

      “The president has already backed down once from a contentious nomination…”

      ====

      Perhaps interviewing an Obama supporter about a _possible_ Obama nomination isn’t the best way to get at the ‘Real News’.

      1. charles sereno

        Cool response to my personal intimations about your sponsors. Perhaps we should retreat to the text and record?
        PS Your flanking maneuver on “Real News” was so awesome.

        1. Jackrabbit

          Charles,

          I don’t understand your point of view or your insinuations. I’m not a troll, and I’m not working for “sponsors.”

          I have been an NC reader for over two years. I have commented many times. I have seen your name in the comments but I don’t recall any specific comment.

          You claimed that my view was wrong because I must’ve missed something at the end of the video – but you have not said what that was. My “????” was because you responded with innuendo instead of simply saying where you think I’m wrong.

          1. charles sereno

            Jackrabbit,
            Thanks. You’re on target about my insinuations and innuendos. I wish I were wrong. I referred to the text of the interview and the documented record of Bennis’ assessments of Obama. Your tactic is to drag the dialog into the the weeds of a “specific comment” you don’t recall. Funny, I recall more specific comments in your original comment that are bursting my memory. But, you’re right. Phyllis Bennis did not, and I repeat, did not ever deny that she was an “Obamabot” in the interview. I grant you that. I guess you win?

          2. Jackrabbit

            Charles,

            I am not familiar with Bennis’ work. If you have a link, that might be helpful.

            You apparently have assumed that I am playing some game here from the start. I am not.

            You said:
            “I referred to the text of the interview and the documented record of Bennis’ assessments of Obama. Your tactic is to drag the dialog into the the weeds of a “specific comment” you don’t recall.”

            What you said previously was cryptic and mildly insulting: “Cool response to my personal intimations about your sponsors. Perhaps we should retreat to the text and record?” To which I responded: “????” because I have no ‘Sponsors’ and I thought you were directing me to the ‘text and record’ of the video (which I had already viewed several times).

            Why not just say: I know/know of Bennis and I don’t think “Obamabot” is a fair statement with regard to her. You can learn more at: (provided links).

            I will write something as high in the comments as is reasonable that notes your objection (I have already written a summary of what I was thinking when I made my original comment.)

        2. Jackrabbit

          Let me add that I said at the top of my original comment: “What am I missing about this interview?”

          I trust Yves and TheRealNews but I didn’t ‘get’ what is so noteworthy about this interview. A possible ‘signal’ to Iran? Weakness of Leadership if Obama throws a second floated name “under the bus?” I don’t ‘buy’ either of these.

          What I do ‘buy’ is that someone wants to send the message that Hagel is a serious candidate. To what end? I think the most relevant related issue at this time is the fiscal cliff’s impact on the military budget (as I wrote in my comment).

          I don’t know Bennis. I am only responding to the points she makes in the interview. Maybe she is completely genuine and a free thinker. Maybe the words/phrases she used in this interview don’t paint a true picture of her concerns/loyalty. Anyone that wants to enlighten us about her views is free to do so.

          I don’t claim to have the ‘right answer’ or even the ‘best’ answer, but I think that the skepticism of Paul Jay and others about this ‘trial balloon’ is warranted.

          1. charles sereno

            With apologies to NC for taking up so much space, let me compare and contrast 2 of Jackrabbit’s statements:

            @12:45 PM —
            “She apparently believes that Hagel’s nomination reflects Obamas’ true liberal/progressive nature. She backs this up by making the case that:
            1) Hagel is the most moderate candidate that is realistically available (using Kucinich as a srawman); and
            2) Obama chose Hagel after his Rice ‘float’ failed (thereby Obama must be serious about Hagel and can’t back down from the possible/maybe/rumored nomination).

            She points out that Obama didn’t really negotiate with Iran in his first term (as he had claimed he would) … but she believes that in his second term he is free to follow his true liberal/progressive nature (a key tenet of the Obamabots) which involves dialog with all parties.

            It is her apparent partisanship and her faith in the ‘real’ Obama that leads me to wonder about her objectivity.

            ======

            Strangely, Bennis herself claims to have had (good and just) PROGRESSIVE reservations about a _potential_ Rice nomination but she chooses to characterize the failure of the rumored/possible/maybe Rice nomination as ‘throwing Rice under the bus’ rather than a progressive ‘win’. (In my view it was neither.)”

            @5:06 pm –
            “I am not familiar with Bennis’ work. If you have a link, that might be helpful.”

            I call that “temporal dissonance.”

          2. Jackrabbit

            Charles,

            I have already said that I based my comments on what is in the interview. Here is a more clear statement:

            “I am not familiar with Bennis’ work BEYOND THE INTERVIEW IN THIS POST. If you have a link, that might be helpful.”

            There is no temporal dissonance. There are two skeptical people. I was skeptical of Bennis because of what I heard in the interview. You are skeptical of me because of my skepticism of her and my use of the loaded term, “Obamabot”, when referring to Bennis’ thinking.

            I probably shouldn’t have used the term without a better understanding of Bennis’ views. I have been quick to acknowledge this once I understood your objection. Yet my criticism still stands. Bennis could be the salt of the earth and be completely independent. But what she essentially suggests IN THIS INTERVIEW is that Obama will be free in his second term to be himself. She believes the Hagel nomination reflects that.

            While it is almost a truism that second term Presidents are more free to pursue their own agenda, there are many who are skeptical of the Hagel trial balloon (though each seems to have their own opinion on what it means). The RealNews interviewer, Paul Jay and a number of commenter’s on this post are among them.

            One would expect that many of those who are NOT skeptical are among those who share a faith in the Obama ‘brand’ (for lack of a better term). This faithfulness has been noted and discussed many times on NC. But that faith doesn’t necessarily rise to the level of ‘Obamabot’ – and that’s why I should not have used the word (even in the oblique way that I did) without a better understanding of Bennis’ views BEYOND WHAT IS IN THIS INTERVIEW.

          3. charles sereno

            Jackrabbit,
            This is in response to your 9:56 pm comment which I’ve just seen. You keep repeating that your understanding of Bennis’ views IN THIS INTERVIEW is that she has faith in Obama’s liberal/progressive nature or his ‘brand.’ RealNews supplies a text of the interview. Just quote us ANYTHING AT ALL in her responses that supports your contention.

          4. Jackrabbit

            While Bennis doesn’t explicitly say that she subscribes to the ‘Obama brand’ (Recall that I specifical said that I was using that term loosely), her _assumption_ that Obama wants to nominate someone that has moderate, if not progressive ideals (she explains that his choosing someone like Kucinich is hampered by political realities) belies her belief that Obama is progressively inclined. Indeed, while she tells us that she had reservations about Rice as a candidate, she expresses no qualms (AFAICR) about Hagel because she recognizes that Hagel is the best that (a progressively inclined) Obama can do.

            She believes that Obama would look weak if he throws another potential nominee ‘under the bus’ so Obama would not have ‘floated’ Hagel as a feint to appeal to liberals/progressives or attract criticism from his political opponents. As such Obama is (now) effectively doing what he really wants to do. In the case of the Hagel nomination it means making good on his campaign promise to have a dialog with Iran.

            Lastly, her Rice comments in the interview seemed to show a partisan outlook that contributed to my view that she is less than independent. I mentioned this in my original comment.

            ========

            Looking forward to your links.

    3. Dan Kervick

      It seems to me Rice was thrown under the bus to shield Hillary Clinton and preserve he future electoral viability. The State Department fucked up badly with its security in Libya, on Clinton’s watch, and people died as a result. But with all the smoke about the communications failure focused on the UN Ambassador, the story of the much more important security failure was partially obscured. Rice was the meat thrown to the wolves to distract them.

  5. Rik

    Probably the biggest chance not having to bomb Iran is having a hawk appointed. At least one that can act as a credible one. The only language the Iranians understand is force and if you not want to use that the treat should be as credible as possible. As treat and actual use are pretty close to each other in this respect. But could not be further apart when you actually have to use force.
    So my idea would be clone Netanyahu and appoint the clone. And let somebody else do the actual negotiating. You actually have to be willing to use force to avoid having to use it.
    Obama will probably appoint a pidgeon. Great for Christmas diner but not for this job.

    1. SayWhat?

      Let me guess. You enjoy playing dominoes immensely and have actually formulated theories about what makes them fall and the implications thereafter.

    2. from Mexico

      So the plan is to take Monroe’s and Teddy Roosevelt’s diplomacy — “speak softly and carry a big stick” — and turn it on its head?

      What could we call this new diplomacy? “Bark loudly and brandish a pen knife?”

  6. Middle Seaman

    Putting a guy who wants to cut defense substantially will cause immediate friction between him and the military. What the point?

    Cutting defense now is not a good idea during a recession. It’s cutting stimulus.

    Hagel has never run anything. Is he the guy you want to run DoD?

    Hagel is a Republican; there are plenty of Democrats that can do the job at least as well as Hagel.

    1. SayWhat?

      Hagel’s merely a trial balloon for the base. As in; see, I nominated or thought about nominating a dove (well, a dovish hawk anyway), and this was the result. Shot down in flames. Then he’ll resurrect Curtis LeMay and nominate the kind of candidate he actually wanted to in the first place. Everything’s chess with O’Bummer. Not with his “true” opposition, the imperialist right wing; but with his TRUE opposition, the moderate liberals who elected him. It’s always about keeping up appearances. This is the Prez we would have had, had he actually been what he said he was in the first place, but clearly isn’t.

      1. from Mexico

        This was what I was thinking when Bennis was talking about “the candidate that Obama really wanted.”

        Obama is so duplicitous and two-faced, so completely devoid of any moral compass or backbone, that who can tell “what Obama really wanted”?

    2. from Mexico

      Middle Seaman says:

      Cutting defense now is not a good idea during a recession. It’s cutting stimulus.</blockquote?

      Yep. It's way more important that social security and medicare be cut.

    3. Jim S

      Well perhaps you haven’t looked closely at defense in the last ten years, but even a casual observer can see there’s plenty of fat to be cut.

      Take the F-35, for example (again, but it’s such an easy target). Canada’s procurement has been in the news, but we can easily apply the logic to the US: if Canada were to forgo the F-35 in favor of the latest-model F-18, it would be able to operate more than twice the number of aircraft, and hence employ twice the number of pilots, twice the number of ground crew, and etc. Of course the F-35 is a more capable air-combat platform, but can it offset a halving of numbers? Doubtful. Operationally, it is decidedly less capable–a lower sortie rate and more difficult maintenance. Strategically, half as many aircraft can be deployed less than half as much–not a real problem for Canada, but a definite issue for the US with its multiple commitments. For higher-intensity fighting we should look at the WW2 Japanese Zero fighter to have an idea what to expect: a superior machine, it was beaten by inferior machines using superior tactics, but in the end the Zero force was attritted away because the Japanese were forced to commit it at the limits of its capabilities without respite–and couldn’t replace its losses. But back to the point, for the same expenditure Canada (and hence the US) can have twice the economic stimulus amongst mechanics, meteorologists, air-traffic controllers, pilots, etc., where it counts.

      And what of the F-35′s costs? We are paying a premium for stealth technology, because Lockheed is effectively in a monopoly position as far as that is concerned. For everything less than cutting-edge technology, we are essentially paying Monster Cable prices for old brown-plastic insulated, RadioShack-branded speaker wire (or the case of the $500 toilet seat). Plus, we are paying for service contracts on the equipment, but once the equipment is out of warranty, we usually also pay for the parts–and once equipment reaches the end-user, it typically has less than a year left under warranty. And sometimes we pay living and travel expenses for the service techs. And since many of these are sub-contracted, we are paying profits to the subs, and the subs have incentive to short us on services provided. And like every other procurement program, Lockheed has drug out the development process to ridiculous lengths so that although it’s delivering aircraft, development is still not finished–the US has spent a billion in modifying aircraft already delivered. So is new technology expensive? Yeah. But Lockheed and co. are making huge profits on the F-35. And like everywhere else, much of that is going to executive compensation. And all of the other procurement program you might examine look much the same.

      We’re spending money, but unless you really believe in the trickle-down effect, don’t suppose that we’re getting good economic stimulus for our buck. It’s so bad, we can reduce defense spending and actually increase economic effect, if we really tried.

      1. Procopius

        I’ve been skeptical of Air Force choices ever since stories from the Korean War about how ground troops much preferred close air support delivered by Marine pilots. The Marines drove old prop-driven planes while the Air Force were usning their (relatively new) jets. The jets were much faster, so they had less time to identify the target and were less accurate at delivering the payload. The Marines were also thought to be more understanding of, and sympathetic to, the grunts on the ground because the Corps is essentially made up of riflemen. Similar stories came out of Vietnam, while the Marines still had some of their old prop-driven planes left.

        The kind of planes the jet jockeys in the Air Force love to play with are really not well suited to the kind of roles we need in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, and especially in Somalia, Djibouti, Yemen and other places where the target may be a couple of guys hiding among rocks rather than a battalion or regiment-sized target. I always thought we should have stuck with the A-10 Tank-buster. It flew low and slow and had all kinds of “smart” armament blus its 20mm cannon was great for armored vehicles and people in the open.

        The F-35 is a terrible waste of money.

    4. different clue

      Cutting Defense is only cutting stimulus if we fail to increase nonDefense by the same amount we cut Defense by. If we merely retarget those dollars dollar-for-dollar to some worthy nonDefense goal, the stimulus effect is fully preserved.

      And if we were to redirect those cut-from-Defense dollars to some other target which really NEEDS spending on. . . like a trillion dollars worth of bridges ready to fall down, pipelines ready to rupture/collapse/explode, roads ready to melt into a mess of gravelly potholes, etc. etc. etc. . . . then we will have valuable publicly useful public works to show for the stimulus money.

      We could even target some of the money to putting disemployed pharmaceutical researchers back to work developing low-profit orphan drugs, orphan vaccines like a vaccine for Lyme Disease, and so forth.

  7. Paul Tioxon

    When Susan Rice went before the nation’s press corps and she spoke about the embassy attack, it was not because her beliefs were consistent with the CIA briefing. She did what she was told to do and she read from a script that she did not write. Similarly, Hagel, or who ever, will be the empty vessel into which Obama’s policy will be poured into. People come on for a host of government positions, not for creative outlets for improv, but to execute the policies the White House wants implemented. Everyone who takes the job knows that. The don’t accept if they can’t be the agent for policy that may not arise from anything they can’t get behind.

    Because Obama has the power, you have to hammer him to get anything that you want from the US Government for the next 4 years. It’s his mechanism to control. If you want a war in Iran and support for Israel’s most right wing hardliners, you go for who you think can hammer Obama for you, in a diplomatic way of course, by appointing personnel and cutting off initiatives that you would rather not see happen. But Hagel is an anomaly in that he should not be attacked by his former Senate colleagues who loved him to pieces just a couple of years ago.

    It is the war on Obama by other means going on, and everyone in the cross fire may or may not survive. Oh Well!

    Here is an excerpt from one of the main sources of Hagel’s problem from the right. In 2006, the author interviewed Hagel where he said the famous words that made him an anti-Semite. This past week, the writer brings us up to date and asks if Hagel is toast? But the question of weakness will be brought up, especially during the tense negotiations over the budget going on. Lot’s of distractions and misdirections, but, a new team must be assembled, quickly. And like the heart, Obama wants what he wants, or who he wants and keeping who he wants away from him is one more way to slow his political momentum.

    From “FOREIGN POLICY: BY AARON DAVID MILLER”

    “Is the target Hagel, Obama, or both? The character of the attack on Hagel leads me to question whether or not the real target of the anti-Hagelites is the president. After all, one of the reasons some pro-Israeli detractors don’t want Hagel as SecDef is their fear that he would only reinforce Obama’s own alleged instincts to be soft on the mullahs and hard on Benjamin Netanyahu. Presumably, that’s one reason he’s even in the running for the job — they share similar views on many matters. The president isn’t seen as warm and fuzzy when it comes to bonding with Netanyahu or the Israelis. So if Hagel’s opponents can indeed sink him, it sends a message on these matters to the White House, too.

    Withholder-in-chief: Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran sanctions: Much has been made of Hagel’s views on other matters — talking to Hamas, changing tack on Hezbollah, and questioning the value of sanctions against Iran. On all these issues, Hagel’s views are out of synch with current U.S. policy. I disagree with the former senator on all three (and make no mistake, should the nomination move ahead, he’ll be pressed on all three).

    But we’re kidding ourselves if we think Chuck Hagel will be in a position to influence the debate on any of them. As I’ve written elsewhere, Barack Obama is the most withholding and controlling U.S. president on foreign policy since Richard Nixon. All power on the big and sensitive issues flows in and out of the White House, as John Kerry will discover too. Obama dominates; he doesn’t delegate. Don’t like what Hagel has to say on Hamas? Not to worry. Unhappy about his views on sanctions? Never mind. His views on this and other matters won’t count for much.”

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/12/24/is_chuck_hagel_toast?page=0,2

  8. par4

    Weakness????? He’s a lying hypocrite just like all of his supporters. As bad as Bush with a D behind his name.

    1. Jackrabbit

      LOL. Yes. In fact, a strong economy is important to the national defense and we need to tighten our belts – so Jamie could be both Sec. of Treasury _and_ Defense.

      What makes this possible is the bi-partisan consensus for a leaner and meaner government.

  9. Eureka Springs

    No bandwidth/time to load the video. But I found this x-mas eve article to be quite good: Why Chuck Hagel Is Irrelevant http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/9233/why-chuck-hagel-is-irrelevant

    The last bit

    ***
    The potential nomination of Hagel is meaningful only if one naturalizes the social and political landscape and assumes that the best which can be hoped for is an ever-so-slightly gentler empire.

    And so the hubbub over Hagel is a squabble which tells us only a little about internal disagreements within foreign policy circles, but much about the widespread tendency not merely to confuse the spectacle of politics for politics itself, but also to foreclose entirely the possibility of meaningful change.
    ***

  10. John Puma

    We’ve known for years that Obama is weak. At this point it would be disappointing if he didn’t demonstrate it at every important opportunity.

    And a rhetorical question: Isn’t there ONE effing’ Democrat that also “believes in cutting defense spending and in communicating with all of our actual and designated bad guys, including Iran.”

  11. different clue

    Ummm . . .

    Maybe if thousands of NaCap readers write and/or call Obama’s office expressing pleasure and support at the thought of a SecDef Hagel, it will strengthen Obama’s resolve in this matter?

    And maybe if thousands of NaCap readers write and/or call their Senators ( because the Senate is where appointees are confirmed or disconfirmed) to say they favor confirming Hagel should Obama appoint Hagel, that would raise the chances of the Senate confirming? Which Senators would communicate back to Obama? Which would raise the chances of Obama appointing?

    Worth a try?

  12. Matthew G. Saroff

    I do not want Hagel nominated or confirmed because of his blatantly homophobic campaign against a man nominated as ambassador to Luxemburg.

    The single most important thing that the next SecDef has to do is to make sure that the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” sticks, and becomes a part of military culture, which will involve sacking of officers who work to subvert the change in policy.

    For everything else that the Pentagon will do, he would merely be a voice at the table

    As it stands now, his non apology “apology” a statement that, “They do not reflect my views or the totality of my public record,” indicates that he is NOT the man to do this.

    There will remain homophobic bigots in the military for decades, just as there were racists bigots in the military for decades after Truman’s desegregation order, but they kept their mouths shut, and followed orders, because those that did not were cashiered.

    I do not believe that Hagel will stand up to the bigots, particularly among the increasingly militantly Evangelical officer corps, and as such he is completely ill suited to the position.

    BTW, in terms of history of being dovish toward invading Iraq and attacking Iran, I believe that this not an indication of Obama’s intention on an Iran strike, but rather a way for providing cover should he decide on an Iran strike.

  13. Jean

    Besides accepting an Iranian nuclear weapons program even if Iran obtains ICBMS aimed at America, there are many many reasons besides Israel and Anti Semitism issues that make Chuck Hagel a very poor choice.

    Hagel’s troglodyte record on gay rights is still an issue even though President Obama finds it very inconvenient as he would like to nominate Hagel tomorrow.

    I hope the President will not risk the political cost of loosing the confirmation battle on this terrible choice.

    It’s not only about what he said many years ago, but that he has not come out for any specific or general commitment to equality for gay military families.

    In general for gays to accept Hagel, he must say that he would like to see DOMA overturned at the Supreme Court.

    But there are many ways a Secretary of Defense could help gay military families no matter how DOMA is decided and Hagel has not come out in favor of any of these.

    Reports to the contrary, LGBT equality is not yet a done deal in the military. There is still the matter of partner benefits. There still remain a handful of regulations that could be revised independent of the Defense of Marriage act that could bring some equity of compensation and benefits to gay and lesbian servicemembers. but remain denied due only to Department of Defense foot-dragging:

    Included in the discretionary benefits currently denied are spousal identication cards, cited in the Pentagon’s own Working Group study as not requiring DOMA repeal to deliver.

    Presiident Obama should also condider
    that besides the bad politics of alienating Democrats by not choosing, Flournoy, a great Democratic manager, many people familiar with Hagel say he is a poor manager.

    Hagel has drawn additional heat from insiders who claim he lacks the credentials needed to manage a department as large and essential as the Pentagon.

    “Yes, Hagel has crazy positions on several key issues. Yes, Hagel has said things that are borderline anti-Semitism. Yes, Hagel wants to gut the Pentagon’s budget. But above all, he’s not a nice person and he’s bad to his staff,” said a senior Republican Senate aide who has close ties to former Hagel staffers.

    “Hagel was known for turning over staff every few weeks—within a year’s time he could have an entirely new office because nobody wanted to work for him,” said the source. “You have to wonder how a man who couldn’t run a Senate office is going to be able to run an entire bureaucracy.”

    Others familiar with Hagel’s 12 year tenure in the Senate said he routinely intimidated staff and experienced frequent turnover.

    “Chuck Hagel may have been collegial to his Senate colleagues but he was the Cornhusker wears Prada to his staff, some of whom describe their former boss as perhaps the most paranoid and abusive in the Senate, one who would rifle through staffers desks and berate them for imagined disloyalty,” said Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq. “He might get away with that when it comes to staffers in their 20s, but that sort of personality is going to go over like a ton of bricks at the Pentagon.”

    Multiple sources corroborated this view of Hagel.

    “As a manager, he was angry, accusatory, petulant,” said one source familiar with his work on Capitol Hill. “He couldn’t keep his staff.”

    “I remember him accusing one of his staffers of being ‘f—ing stupid’ to his face,” recalled the source

  14. TC

    The al Qaeda backer masquerading as president heads an administration without future. There is little chance boy wonder backed by insolvent interests will be tolerated much longer. This deceitful disgrace and dangerous threat presents many arms soon to cross with fingers pointing and mouths proclaiming in unison, “He did it.”

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