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Hagel Hearing Farce

hagel-hearings-faces

My latest for The National Interest, ”Ignoring the Hagel Hearing Farce,” has posted. I prefer my suggested title, “Hagel Hearings: Garbage In, Garbage Out.” An excerpt:

While I usually disagree with them on security policy, I respect both John McCain and Lindsay Graham as players. They’ve both spent decades steeped in the issues, both in the Senate and in uniform. But both used their time for grandstanding and score settling rather than probing the man who will potentially lead the nation’s largest department through a perilous and uncertain future.

Frankly, whether the 2007 troop surge in Iraq was a good idea is completely irrelevant to leading the Pentagon in 2013. And the views of the secretary of defense on our diplomatic stance toward Israel aren’t relevant, period. As The Atlantic‘s James Fallows observes, “Virtually none of the hostile questions for Hagel reflected awareness that a Secretary of Defense, no matter how influential, does not set U.S. foreign policy, does not decide where and whether to commit troops, does not decide on boycotts versus engagement with Iran, does not make war-or-peace decisions, and in countless other ways is not the President of the United States.”  Although, interestingly, John Kerry was just confirmed easily as secretary of state despite sharing Hagel’s views on these issues.

Hagel, chairman of the Atlantic Council, is my boss’ boss. But the policy wonk in me found his answers, even given how little he had to work with, disappointing, even frustrating. We agree on almost every issue he was challenged on yesterday and, frankly, I could have given better answers to most of the questions off the top of my head, without the weeks of preparation at the hands of Pentagon staffers, than he gave yesterday.  Hell, I think Global Zero is silly and could offer a decent defense.

Then again, so could the Chuck Hagel who’s led the Atlantic Council the last four years.

The Project on Government Oversight’s Winslow Wheeler describes Hagel’s performance as “fumbling and apologetic” and declares, “Unlike most effective politicians who are always clever at saying nothing or changing positions, he was so inarticulate at doing so that it is also hard to understand how he ever could have been elected twice to the Senate from Nebraska.” But that’s precisely the problem: Hagel never has been a typical politician. Like the late Mayor Ed Koch, Hagel is that rare public official who’s always said what’s on his mind and voted his conscience on the issues without much carrying what anyone thought about it.

Much more at the link.

Photo montage courtesy Business Insider.

Related Posts:

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Scott says:

    Unfortunately, here in Texas we are finding our brand-new senator, Ted Cruz, to be just as dishonest, disreputable, and deceitful as his collegues.

    I know we are supposed to be civil to the greatest deliberative body but aren’t those days long gone? I’m waiting for one candidate, witness, or nominee to say “to hell with it, this is what I think of you” and then go ahead and tell them in no uncertain terms exactly that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  2. Ben Wolf says:

    Virtually none of the hostile questions for Hagel reflected awareness that a Secretary of Defense, no matter how influential, does not set U.S. foreign policy, does not decide where and whether to commit troops, does not decide on boycotts versus engagement with Iran, does not make war-or-peace decisions, and in countless other ways is not the President of the United States.

    They are perfectly aware that Hagel won’t set policy. They don’t like his independence and don’t want his ideas which conflict with the dominant narrative being heard by the American People. They might start questioning their masters in Washington.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  3. Hagel didn’t have a great day, this much must be admitted.

    But, I have to say that much of the questioning I saw from McCain, Graham, Inhofe, and most especially Ted Cruz, struck me as idiotic and irrelevant.

    Indeed, It’s already been established that at least two of the “gotchas” that Cruz claimed were based on what can only be described as dishonest editing — see here and here.

    The only thing I can say about yesterday is that it was an entirely depressing endeavor for anyone hoping for foreign policy sanity from the Republican Party.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 2

  4. Pharoah Narim says:

    Putting aside whether Iraq was wrong or right. The fact remains that there would have been no need for a “surge” had Dumbsfeld and Cheney listened to the professionals in DOD that told them that they needed 500K troops for an occupation and to not disband the Baath party and Army. To call out that we needed a surge and it “worked” without being on the record calling out the original decision to throw professional advice to the wind is to admit lack of strategic forethought and incompetence –something chicken hawks are good for.

    As for Hagel–meh. He gunning to be a drawdown/downsize SOD. Not alot of vision needed for that job. The next SOD after him is the guy that will be important to the next 20-30 years of the military.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Hagel never was the sharpest tool in the woodshed, but honestly yesterday’s fiasco of a hearing performance was embarrassing even by the low standards of Obama’s prior cabinet picks.

    The nominee to be the head arguably of the most powerful government agency on earth was unprepared to answer even obvious questions that could have been anticipated from a million miles away, doesn’t know what his positions are on key issues, would wish to retract position statements recently made out of his own mouth, is not up to speed on global geopolitical current events, obviously has anti-Semitic leanings, and doesn’t believe as CEO of the DOD that he would set policy. Really? Really?? Geez.

    All along I figured that Hagel would get mugged by reality and then morph on the job into a sentient and rational conservative Republican. Like Obama himself did on various subjects; for example, the drone program, keeping Gitmo open, military tribunals for terrorists, renditions, etc. But after yesterday I have to say that unless Hagel gets a brain transplant there’s little chance of that happening. Perhaps he’s suffering from undiagnosed PTSD and its residuals. Who knows? But if this guy is the best choice to lead DOD, during a period in which we’re engaged in a shooting war in Afghanistan and the ongoing asymmetrical global war against terrorism, with grave budget, deficit and debt crises to boot, along with the guiloatine of DOD sequestration cuts, then we might as well reach for the Hemlock and be done with it.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 34

  6. Tsar Nicholas says:

    guillotine, that is. Perhaps that’s a sign….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

  7. Just Me says:

    I struggle to see how Obama thinks this is the best candidate he could appoint to the post. I struggle even more to see how Obama supporters think he is the best possible candidate for the post.

    He will probably end up confirmed and is likely to find himself the fall guy for Obama regarding any mistakes made regarding military use, policy or cuts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  8. wr says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “then we might as well reach for the Hemlock and be done with it. ”

    I think I speak for many people here when I say: “Let us help you lift that cup.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 3

  9. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis:It seems to me that if you are looking for sanity of any sort, you need to go elsewhere than the GOP. Do we see a change coming or more “a pox on both their houses” and “I can never vote for a Democrat?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  10. rudderpedals says:

    That was a hazing, not a hearing. McCain has a chip on his shoulder the size of Mt Rushmore. The tea bags are opportunistic and join in wherever, it doesn’t matter, but ISTM the only way to play the hearing/hazing/live act is to not lose it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  11. jukeboxgrad says:

    a Secretary of Defense, no matter how influential, does not set U.S. foreign policy

    Interesting to see a point of agreement among James Joyner, James Fallows, and Charles Krauthammer (link):

    Hagel himself doesn’t matter. He won’t make foreign policy. Obama will.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  12. anjin-san says:

    @ Just Me

    I struggle to see how Obama thinks this is the best candidate he could appoint to the post.

    Given your politics, of course you do. After all, Hagel is a combat vet, a proven leader, a foreign policy & national security expert, a demon for work (very unpopular in political circles on the right), and a highly successful businessman (doesn’t that make him kind of a holy shaman on the right??).

    Who do you have in mind?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  13. Laurence Bachmann says:

    Republicans behaving badly (gasp!) doesn’t make Hagel a good choice.

    –as a gay man I have to object to a homophobe now heading up a department historically hostile and abusive to people like me. Hagel’s prejudice was not only misguided, as a senator he used his office to demean people like me. His behavior led to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and a military culture hostile and destructive. For more than 15 years his ignorance prevailed, and was institutionalized, ruining people’s service and careers. Is it really smart to trust someone who helped cultivate an atmosphere of homophobia in the military and civil service to now eradicate it? I am more than happy to accept his apology. I’ll be damned if he should be rewarded.

    –I am tired of hearing about how astute his misgivings about the Iraq war proved to be. Despite them he voted to go to war. And to fund it again and again. What good is being so perceptive if you haven’t the courage of your convictions? Hagel’s acumen was needed leading up to the war, not five years in.

    –on that point, despite misgivings he voted for the Patriot Act. Twice. Again, if he was disturbed, he should have voted against it. Mavericks aren’t supposed to buckle or tow the party line. In my book he gets zero points for breaking with his party in 2008. Any nitwit knew the war had become a debacle.

    –finally, I am happy to commend him for his service in Vietnam. But it doesn’t follow that it is an asset as defense secretary. A dozen family members have done so, and none of us think it is prep for a cabinet post. Indeed, the experience of participating in an ill advised occupation of Vietnam didn’t change his vote to go to war in Iraq.

    Hagel is being pummeled by Repubs because he bailed on the policy he initially supported. Plus he took Obama under his wing and was helpful in 2008. To the right wing he is judas. And while McCain and Co. are acting vile and hysterical, I seem to remember Dems being apoplectic when that idiot John Bolton was nominated to the UN. Every awkward remark of Hagel’s is excused by saying he wnt make policy. True. Then why did we go crazy with Bolton. We did because it was a chance to damage our opponent. We did because doing so served our political objectives.

    If Hagel thought his former party WASN’T going to come after him he is a fool. I do agree their crudeness is a new low, but they couldn’t care less what I think of them. As for the prestige of the senate, what prestige? It is so disfunctional it deserves no respect.

    I am resigned to Hagel. Dems will line up and a few Repubs will vote aye. And Obama is rewarding a guy who gave him cred when he needed it. But Hagel isn’t even close to being a great pick. And if he isn’t better prepared than his first day he is going to be a mistake.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  14. David Lentz says:

    Chuck Hagel is not much of a thiinker, and he will not be independent. Looks like Obama wants a sock puppet as Secretary of Defense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  15. @David Lentz: I’m pretty sure that Article II of the Constitution of the United States grants the executive power and commander in chief status to the President, not any cabinet secretaries.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  16. @Timothy Watson: That should be “not to any cabinet secretaries.”

    The problems of writing comments when one just woke up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    When it comes to foreign policy I see nothing better from the President. I disagree with his policy in Afghanistan (we should have started getting out sooner), I’m not at all pleased with his Drone War and Kill Lists, and I was against his decision to take military action in Libya without seeking Congressional approval.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  18. Barry says:

    James: “While I usually disagree with them on security policy, I respect both John McCain and Lindsay Graham as players. They’ve both spent decades steeped in the issues, both in the Senate and in uniform. But both used their time for grandstanding and score settling rather than probing the man who will potentially lead the nation’s largest department through a perilous and uncertain future.”

    Since when. Both supported the Iraq War, which certainly rules them out as above the pack. It’s a rare occasion for McCain to oppose a war; he’s a war junkie. Graham is a leader on legalizing torture and stripping us of our rights to little things like not being imprisoned on the whim of the government.

    Do you have any actual evidence that either is worth a rat’s fart? Not just their reputations, which any right-winger gets from our Courtier press, and not decades of bullsh*t, lies and bribery service.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  19. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Hagel didn’t have a great day, this much must be admitted.

    But, I have to say that much of the questioning I saw from McCain, Graham, Inhofe, and most especially Ted Cruz, struck me as idiotic and irrelevant. ”

    These are linked – the questioning was bullsh*t, by a bunch of POS scum. Hagel couldn’t give honest answers without being rejected. He had to bullsh*t right back at them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  20. Pharoah Narim says:

    I wish more people in this country would had military exposure and experience so they’d realize what frauds McCain and Lindsay Graham are. They pass themselves off as experts but Graham’s a reserve Jag–what kind of relevant experience is that going to give you about the military and issues relevant to the people that serve? I’ll tell you–little to none. Ask any troop, how many Jags have you come into contact with or to name one of the jags on their base. People in this specialty are almost completely separated from the common military experience. As for McCain, sure, he’s a combat pilot but the he didn’t get far enough in the ranks (as a result of being shot down and captured) to get any strategic experience of how all the pieces of the military work to get to project combat power. A young fighter pilot is a one-trick pony (and with good reason) we want them to be the best at operating their platform. Later on we want them to pass on that information to train the up and coming young guys/gals before we start introducing them to the political and strategic inner workings of their service and how it dovetails with the other services. I would defer to McCain as an expert on veteran’s affairs but not military strategy especially in light of the fact that the Navy he came along in no longer exists. It’s been re-purposed twice since Vietnam in order to make it relevant to current threats. Even after being repatriated McCain spent the rest of his career lost in the beltway military mafia–another group that’s isolated from people that are about the business of executing our military responsibilities. This group is politicians in uniform. There’s no evidence that he’s attempted to go in depth with the current nature of combat in order to remain current on how the military needs to be equipped and aligned for the threats that exist now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  21. Laurence Bachmann says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Your objections are, I think, misguided. Drones, kill lists , timetables for withdrawal are simply the workings of a failed policy. Invading Afghanistan destabilizes its neighbor Pakistan which becomes more Radical. 11 years in we are propping up the government with spit and a prayer. Invading Iraq destabilizes the region and makes Iran, an enemy more influential, pushing a former antagonist into Irans sphere of influence We alienate Turkey, our staunchest ally in the region because Iraqi kurds are a potential threat. Invading Libya results in internal chaos there and Islamic insurgents destabilizing Mali. Not consulting Congress is the least of what is wrong with the policy. Since when is a dictator being cruel to his people a valid reason to invade another country.

    Drones and kill lists and time tables are simply the noxious tools that mitigate and obfuscate our failures. They are the tools used to paper over the result of trying to police the world and dictate
    how others will live and govern themselves. Most depressing, drone attacks and kill lists are not merely unlawful, they are ineffective. The “collateral damage” of a drone attack in Pakistan are actually men, women and children slaughtered by a projectile that collapses the building they by chance are in. The ironic parallels to 9/11 are frightening.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. Tyrell says:

    I was disappointed that the questions dealt with the past, not the future. How about North Korea?
    How about Russia ? Of course Cuba was not mentioned, or Venezuela. How about the US Navy submarine fleet? I am not sure that we can make cuts in these without jeopardizing deterrence. It seems that every time we make big cuts in defense, the Russians or Chinese try to start something.
    Closing bases down in Europe would not be a wise idea. It is easier to stay than have to go back in to defend France, England, or Germany.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  23. superdestroyer says:

    Considering that Hagel’s biggest job as Secretary of Defense will be manging the downsizing and deciding which missions the DoD should give up in the future, he does not seem up to work.

    If Mr. Hagel could not bother to prepare for a Senate hearing on his confirmation, I doubt he will sweat the details on downsizing, force size, and mission reduction. With all of the talent around these days, if Mr. Hagel really the best choice for that job?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  24. Tyrell says:

    @superdestroyer: My top defense secretaries:General George C. Marshall (one of the greatest statesmen in this country’s history), Robert McNamara (worst mistake : limited war strategy in Vietnam), and Casper Wineberger. I would prefer a top general for that post, but being a war veteran should be a requirement for that cabinet post.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  25. C. Clavin says:

    I have problems with some aspects of Obamas foreign policy…am happy with others. Really compared to the world class blunders of Bush43 and Cheney* anything looks great.
    But Republicans this week, led by McCain, showed why they can’t be allowed to be in charge.
    What a pathetic group of ignoramuses.
    And how the f’ did that Cruz guy even graduate from high school. Forget secession…we should just jettison Texas if that clown is representative of the states population.

    *The only thing more ridiculous than the Republican embarrassment at the Hagel hearing was Dick Cheney weighing in on gun safety this week.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  26. Mikey says:

    I initially read the title of this post as “Hagel Hearing Face,” which made the collage of photos at the top much more amusing than was probably intended.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. C. Clavin says:

    Seriously…Cruz, Bush43, Perry, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Cornyn…WTF is going on down there???

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  28. C. Clavin says:

    Of course Bush43 wasn’t really Texas’ doing…his downfall was that…well…he couldn’t say no to Dick.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. Tyrell says:

    @C. Clavin: “What’s the matter with you people out there ? Too much sun? ” (“Coogan’s Bluff” , one of Eastwood’s greatest)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. Rafer Janders says:

    @Tyrell:

    Closing bases down in Europe would not be a wise idea. It is easier to stay than have to go back in to defend France, England, or Germany.

    Defend them from what? The Red Army? The Ottoman Turks? The Mongol hordes?

    We have not had bases in Europe to defend Europe since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. We have them for power projection, so that we can stage our operations in Africa and Asia partly from there rather than from the US — it’s for our benefit, not for the Europeans’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  31. Laurence Bachmann says:

    @Timothy Watson: your remark is disingenuous and untrue. Hegle’s defenders who insist that Obama will set policy blithely ignore the historical fact that our departments of State and Defense are institutionally and organizationally more independent than any president would care to admit.

    When Regan would go huffing and puffing about the globe about the evil empire, career diplomats and under secretaries would follow him and actually undermine his remarks saying he really doesn’t mean it, it’s just a bone to his base. When 41 wanted to liberate Kuwait the Joint Chiefs made it clear no war til you sign up partners and we get ready. when Clinton told the military he was, as commander in chief unilaterally Changing policy and allowing gays to serve openly, the military kicked his ass. And that institutional check is good. Obama’s foreign policy, while modestly better than Bush’s is still a disgrace. Between executive orders and commanding the military to ignore international law he resembles a king more than an executive constrained by the rule of law.

    So assuring me Obama is in charge is small consolation. A Harvard grad who railed against regime change in 2006-2008 as a violation of international law and destabilizing to the region goes and repeats the same moronic mistake in Libya turning the country into a giant NRA trade show. So much for cutting off arms to terrorists. We just undid 10 years worth of work. And so much for learning the lesson that interference breeds instability. Ask the people of Mali how well that’s working. And if it spreads to Nigeria god help us all.

    Last but not least do you think a president who authorizes drone attacks that repeatedly kill hundreds and hundreds of innocent civilians while illuminating a few enemies is all that different than a highjaxker who uses a 727 as projectile? The pakistanis killed in the attacks he PERSONALLY authorizes are as innocent as the Americans in the twin towers. Do you think it doesn’t occur to the world how disgracefully hypocritical it is to launch drones into Pakistanas it suits us and then condemn Gazans for hurling rockets into Israel. I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or vomit. Can you imagine howstupid the Swedes must feel giving him the Peace Prize.

    I flip when I read Doug Mataconis say he is disturbed by Obama’s Libya policy because he did not consult Congress! THATS what bothers you…he didn’t consult Congress before breaking International law and violating the Charter of the UNited Nations (which Obama seems to respect about as much as John Bolton). if congress had just gotten on board pissing on international law it would have been okay? Naturally, both Obama and Mataconis are lawyers.

    As you have figured out by now it REALLY sets me off when I hear somebody excuse a stupid
    position of Hagel’s saying The President will make policy. Yes, and therein lies the problem. Obama is positively Nixonian in his disregard for international law and the sovereignty of nations–all the downside of a secret war in Cambodia without the trip to china.

    I am sure you are a nice and thoughtful person so I am sorry to harangue in this way. But I think it is important to tell the truth, especially to ourselves. Obama is a huge disappointment. Hillary was a nice goodwill ambassador and mended fences but otherwise a nonentity. Hagel, I think lacks the courage of his convictions and is a homophobe for good measure. He is about to head the one government service where homophobia is rampant. State will soon be lead by the only democrat in the last five elections who couldn’t win more votes than a republican.

    Like a Miss America beauty pageant contestant, I pray for change we can believe in AND world
    peace, all the while knowing with this team the job just got harder. So let’s hope State and Defense resurrect that proud tradition of ignoring and undermining the stupid policies of our inept politicians. I for one would be most grateful.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  32. Tyrell says:

    @Rafer Janders: Ok, but I have not forgotten the Russian surprises in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Berlin and nobody did anything. We can’t afford to fall asleep and watch history repeat itself. Too many people suffer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  33. anjin-san says:

    @ Tyrell

    We can’t afford to fall asleep

    We also can’t afford our current level of military spending.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  34. anjin-san says:

    How about the US Navy submarine fleet? I am not sure that we can make cuts in these without jeopardizing deterrence.

    How much deterrence do we need? The Trident II’s can effectively destroy the world several times over. Just how many times over do we need to kill everyone before conservatives can sleep soundly?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  35. Rafer Janders says:

    @Tyrell:

    Ok, but I have not forgotten the Russian surprises in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Berlin and nobody did anything. We can’t afford to fall asleep and watch history repeat itself.

    That is complete and utter nonsense. You are comparing the actions of an expansionist and communist Soviet Union fifty years ago with present day Russia, a nation which doesn’t even have a current border with Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia or Germany (other than the miniscule Kaliningrad enclave).

    What you’re saying makes as much sense as claiming that Britain needs to station troops in Belgium to prevent Germany from using it for a flanking attack into France.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  36. Rafer Janders says:

    Seriously, Tyrell, I can’t get over how disconnected from reality this is. Have you not read any newspapers or magazines in the last 25 years?

    This is why we can’t have nice things: over half our country literally has no idea what’s going on in the world, and then demands that we spend money and base policy on non-existent threats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  37. Rafer Janders says:

    @Tyrell:

    Ok, but I have not forgotten the Russian surprises in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Berlin and nobody did anything. We can’t afford to fall asleep and watch history repeat itself.

    This is also why we need to step up our air and sea patrols around Pearl Harbor. I have not forgotten the Japanese sneak attack there, and we can’t afford to fall asleep and risk another surprise from Japan.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  38. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    it’s for our benefit, not for the Europeans’.

    It also has the neat effect of relieving Europe of having to fund things like a national defense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  39. Rafer Janders says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    It also has the neat effect of relieving Europe of having to fund things like a national defense.

    Well, first, national defense against what or whom, exactly? Who would be in a credible position to attack Europe and why would they do it?

    Second, even if that was the case, more fools us, then. It would be completely rational for them to let us do pay the cost if we were dumb enough to do so. But let’s be honest, we’re not paying for the world’s largest military to do the Europeans any favors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  40. anjin-san says:

    It’s not complicated. “Defending Europe” in the year 2013 is more about keeping the endless river of cash flowing to defense contractors, and less about any actual national security needs.

    Eisenhower warned us…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  41. David M says:

    @Laurence Bachmann:

    I have to object to a homophobe now heading up a department historically hostile and abusive to people like me. Hagel’s prejudice was not only misguided, as a senator he used his office to demean people like me. His behavior led to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and a military culture hostile and destructive. For more than 15 years his ignorance prevailed, and was institutionalized, ruining people’s service and careers.

    I’m not sure that criticism is warranted. DADT was passed into law before Hagel was elected to the Senate and he supported it’s repeal in 2010. It’s also not right to evaluate the 1993 DADT compromise using today’s political environment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  42. Laurence Bachmann says:

    @David M: I’m not sure either David, and I don’t mean to suggest he was the author of DADT. But his bigoted attitude that homosexuality was a disqalifier for providing service in either a military or civil capacity was a prevalent and ultimately the prevailing attitude. And he used his power to deny people like me that privilege. That is why I think he is such a crummy choice.

    I am thrilled that people like Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms recanted their opposition to civil rights. I would NEVER think to nominate them to run the NAACP. I seem to recall Sam Nunn engineering DADT…but that could be wrong.

    Also, I’m not saying I can’t live with Hagel if I have to. But I’ll be damned if I will pretend I like it or that he is a hero. I say bullshit to that assertion-if Hagel is a hero there is hope for the likes of Bull Connor. People like him have been a pain in my ass my whole life. And if Obama wants to repay a crony who helped him establish his cred, so be it. But it’s not why I supported him twice. That is for damn sure.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  43. SoWhat says:

    You know that when even “Obama advisors” are leaking that they found Hagel’s testimony “baffling and incomprehensible” it is BAD.

    Sure the pro-Obama press and pro-Obama bloggers will attack the GOP Senators rather than face the reality of just what an epic fail Hage was, but when even the WH knows it’s bad—and leaks it to the NYT, you know it’s BAD!

    My guess is that Hagel will be confirmed and that all his subsequent moronic and inane comments will find their way into GOP POTUS candidate ads.

    Go Chuck, you magnificent moron!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  44. anjin-san says:

    @ SoWhat

    Perhaps you could list some of your life’s accomplishments that so exceed those of “moron” Chuck Hagel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  45. An Interested Party says:

    Unfortunately, here in Texas we are finding our brand-new senator, Ted Cruz, to be just as dishonest, disreputable, and deceitful as his collegues.

    Well, he is part of the Tea Party crowd…

    As you have figured out by now it REALLY sets me off when I hear somebody excuse a stupid
    position of Hagel’s saying The President will make policy. Yes, and therein lies the problem. Obama is positively Nixonian in his disregard for international law and the sovereignty of nations–all the downside of a secret war in Cambodia without the trip to china.

    Sadly, what were our alternatives? McCain? Romney? These fools would have been any better?

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  46. Laurence Bachmann says:

    @An Interested Party: A good point and I agree that Obama is marginally better. It is true to that mussolini was better than hitler. I wouldn’t want either running my country. Indeed, I think much of Obama’s misguided policies are the fault are of Democrats, and liberals in particular. Presidents traditionally take these short cuts to either avoid body count (use drones) or to do a run around a Congress that tries always to abnegate responsibility. While understandable it is unacceptable. When are democrats,and liberals in particular, going to hold their own to the same standard that they try to hold Republicans? It is the rankest hypocrisy.

    The Iraq war was a debacle but at least it was debated and received a vote in Congress. The war in Libya is a fiasco trifecta 1) disobey International Law. 2) Ignore Congress. 3) destabilize the
    region and incur its resentment. Obama should be ashamed and it is our responsibility of liberal democrats to say so. Over and over. Presidents in their second term traditionally look to their legacy SO NOW IS THE TIME TO SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

    Now is the time for liberals to ACTUALLY ADHERE TO THEIR PRINCIPLES and stop accepting presidential behavior that is little more than warmed over Neo con disdain for International law.
    Let’s start with his appointment of Hagel, a woefully substandard choice; a (perhaps) reformed homophobe who has the right instincts, but never the courage of his convictions, always voting the wrong way, when the chips were down. I am NOT saying humiliate Obama by voting Hagel down. But make it clear, publicly and privately, support is conditional on him doing better–quietly reducing drone attacks, OBEYING international, etc. In effect, negotiate a better policy. THAT IS WHAT POLITICS IS ALL ABOUT, AFTER ALL.

    And if we don’t stand up for what we believe in than we are no better than the republicans who let Neo cons run roughshod over the constitution.

    Presidents

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  47. mantis says:

    @Laurence Bachmann:

    I am thrilled that people like Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms recanted their opposition to civil rights. I would NEVER think to nominate them to run the NAACP.

    You seem to be mistaking the United States military for GLAD.

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  48. Laurence Bachmann says:

    @mantis: Acually no. I seem to be mistaken in thinking Obama was serious about rooting out homophobia from the military. Appointing a former homophobe is, in my humble opinion, hardly a recipe for success. Do you understand now, or shall I use even smaller words?

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  49. mantis says:

    @Laurence Bachmann:

    I seem to be mistaken in thinking Obama was serious about rooting out homophobia from the military.

    If you think Obama’s priority in commanding the military is rooting out homophobia you are quite foolish. That would have to be pretty far down the list, what with the whole national security thing to deal with.

    Of course, homophobia is not a policy. This administration has, however, made huge progress in eliminating institutional discrimination in the military. Why do you think he would put someone into place who would buck against that tide? Can you even come up with a reason? If you can’t, smart money thinks he wouldn’t.

    Do you understand now, or shall I use even smaller words?

    Maybe if you put them in all caps.

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  50. Laurence Bachmann says:

    All right, one more try:

    “if you think Obama’s priority in commanding the military is rooting out homophobia you are quite foolish.”. ALL RIGHT THEN I AM FOOLISH FOOLISH TO BELIEVE THAT AN AFRICAN AMERICAN PRESIDENT WOULD ALWAYS MAKE EQUAL TREATMENT A PRIORITY. SILLY ME. (ARE THE ALL CAPS HELPING?)

    further, I am beginning to understand better why Hagel presents no problem for you. A person who suggests that “with all the national security things to deal with” equal treatment under the law understandably drops down the priority list is admirably honest but morally reprehensible. Tell me, is eliminating misogyny and sexism in the military something our Prez can be bothered with or is the physical assault of female soldiers also unworthy of busy busy busy bee Obama’s attention.

    I repeat: a reformed racist is not the best choice to preside over Spelman College. Anti-Semites never get to run the Bnai Brith. But homos should just shrug when a probably reformed homophobe gets appointed to head the institution where his views did the most harm. Bullshit. This homo is tired of all that. Particularly after vigorously supporting Obama. Twice. Forgive me Mantis for noticing that I have been pissed on by somebody I trusted.

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  51. Justinian says:

    I have not seen the hearings themselves, but will accept the report of Mr. Joyner that they were “garbage in, garbage out” and “a farce.”

    Grandstanding gets more and more gross as the size of the crowds in the grandstand grow in size. None of the garbage, and none of the farce, would have occured if there had not been television cameras in the hearing room.

    And that is why I apprehend with dread what will happen to jurisprudence in this country if the Supreme Court succumbs to pressure from Congress and others to televise its oral arguments.

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  52. David M says:

    @Laurence Bachmann:

    I would NEVER think to nominate [Strom Thurmond or Jesse Helms] to run the NAACP.

    This is such a poor analogy it calls into question your judgement on the matter.

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  53. grumpy realist says:

    @Laurence Bachmann: I think you’re trying to make the perfect the enemy of the good.

    See the Republicans? Imagine them back in power. Do you think that they would have revoked DADT? No? Then shut up and quit complaining. Obama isn’t perfect, but he is so much better than what the other side would have been doing. And face it, it takes time to get rid of homophobia. You can try pushing faster, but trust me, 99% of the population will push back at you.

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