Op-Ed: Opposition to Hagel Vindicated by Apalling Performance
In his nomination hearing several days ago before the Senate Armed Service Committee, Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) went from merely awful to truly appalling, with his utter inability to defend his record and demonstrate his worthiness for the all-important Secretary of Defense position.
During several rounds of questions, he repeatedly stumbled in his attempts to explain his positions on dealing with the dangers of a nuclear Iran, his position towards Israel, and his past use of inflammatory language, such as his statement about the "Jewish lobby."
Hagel was also unable to explain away the clear contradictions between his past positions and his current positions.
His poor performance is suggestive that he was far from convinced of the merits of the arguments he was proposing, and was instead merely exhibiting a clear case of “confirmation conversion.” His hearing performance proved embarrassing even for many Hagel supporters.
My organization, The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), expressed its strong opposition to the nomination of Senator Hagel early in the process. We identified cases where Sen. Hagel’s positions was ill-suited to the position of Secretary of Defense, and worked diligently day after day to share this information with both Hill staff in face to face meetings, as well as with our members.
This active stance is in sharp contrast to the unfortunate decision by many other pro-Israel organizations which chose to sit on the sidelines despite their reservations. Unfortunately, in some cases, the silence of Pro-Israel organizations has been taken as apparent approval.
EMET has been on the Hill, meeting with over 50 Democratic and Republican Senate offices, in an effort to educate them about Sen. Hagel’s problematic record by providing research and preparing questions.
Sen. Hagel’s performance before the Armed Services Committee vindicated EMET’s opposition.
Senator Hagel's abysmal performance before the committee indicated that he would say anything to get through the confirmation process, even when it contradicted a well-established pattern and a long record of appeasement to the enemies of both the United States and Israel.
The fact that Sen. Hagel was forced to reverse himself on numerous issues throughout the hearing indicates that he realizes just how far outside the mainstream of his former Senate colleagues his views are.
Hagel’s sub-par performance was almost certainly observed carefully by America’s enemies abroad. His inability to summon cogent and cohesive defenses of American policy cannot help but to reflect badly on the United States.