GOP Hammers Hagel in Confirmation Hearing

Former senator questioned on war strategy, Israel comments

   

NewLetters GOP Hammers Hagel in Confirmation HearingThe difference between John Kerry’s confirmation as the next Secretary of State and Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel’s current confirmation hearing is like night and day.

While Kerry’s confirmation took the form of a bipartisan praise party for the long-time Democratic senator, and he earned near-unanimous confirmation by his peers, Hagel, a former senator himself (and a Republican to boot), has not been so lucky.

In his confirmation hearing today, Hagel faced tough questions from GOP senators on his defense policy and past remarks about Israel. In particular, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was particularly rough on Hagel, interrupting the nominee as he attempted to answer the questions asked of him. McCain was criticizing him for refusing to say whether or not he thought opposing the Iraq surge in 2007 was wrong.

In addition, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., brought up his controversial remarks about the “Jewish lobby,” remarks which Hagel said he regretted. Hagel also received criticism for his stance on the war in Afghanistan, as well as other comments he made about Iran and U.S. nuclear strategy.

Some Democrats came to Hagel’s rescue during the hearing. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said “I feel like I want to apologize for some of the tone and demeanor from today.” The Senate Armed Forces Committee chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. said “I thought he did very well. I thought he was responsive. He kept his cool. His experience was both modestly and eloquently described.”

Six Republicans, including four on the Armed Forces Committee, have said they will oppose Hagel’s nomination. These include Marco Rubio of Florida and Dan Coats of Indiana. Just one of the Senate’s 45 Republican’s, Mississippi’s Thad Cochran, has said he will back Hagel.  Unlike Kerry’s confirmation, Hagel’s looks like it will happen along party lines.

– Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPolitics Editor

The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.

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