Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday that Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, seemed “unimpressive and unprepared” during his confirmation hearings last week.
The former Republican senator from Nebraska faced an intense line of questioning by the Senate Armed Service Committee on Thursday, as lawmakers pressed him to defend his highly controversial record on Israel, “the Jewish lobby,” Iran, and Iraq, among other highly significant issues facing the nation.
“The disconcerting thing for anybody that watched it is he seemed unimpressive and unprepared on the questions that quite frankly he knew was coming,” Gibbs, a close adviser to President Obama told NBC’s “Meet The Press.”
He nonetheless maintained, that questions asked by Republican senators, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), such as the heated exchange over the Iraq war surge, were “totally superfluous.”
“If you turned on C-Span and hadn’t watched TV in the intervening six years, you’d think we still had 150,000 troops parked in Iraq,” Gibbs said, adding that the “next defense secretary is not going to deal with Iraq and the surge.”
“This was a vanity thing for John McCain to try to prove to a former friend who disagreed with him that he was right on the surge and Chuck Hagel was wrong,” he maintained, adding that he thought Hagel was correct to tell McCain “we’re going to let history judge Iraq.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) during the hearings further pressed Hagel to defned his 2006 interview with Middle East analyst Aaron David Miller in which he said, “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people” in Congress into doing “dumb things.”
“Name one dumb thing we’ve been goaded into doing by the Israeli, Jewish lobby,” Graham demanded.
“I don’t know,” Hagel said, unable to provide names.