Haggling over Hagel
The uproar over President Obama nomination of former Nebraska Senator, Chuck Hagel, is a study in dysfunctional behavior. We are seeing so many objectives are being served at the same time. It just reassuring that the sand box is big enough for all the actors.
The “log cabin” kids jumped in quickly. They might do well to look in the mirror. These gay Republicans have jumped out in front of the bus while the much larger gay community have taken the time to look at Hagel’s entire record (including his apology over his “overly gay aggressive” comments). If these log cabin kids think Republicans will like them any better for stirring the pot, they are sadly mistaken.
Bill Kristol’s statements are not a surprise. You might recall that Kristol and his Weekly Standard “neoconservative” magazine were a thinly disguised cheering team for AIPAC. Hagel did incorrectly refer to AIPAC as the “Jewish Lobby” instead of correctly saying it was an Israeli Lobby. Kristol, however, rode to infamy with his unbridled support for invading and occupying Iraq. Later when the Bush Administration completely mismanaged the Iraq War, Kristol claimed the invasion had been a good idea but the war’s prosecution had been poorly done. He is no closer to the mark this time too.
The two amigos, Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham, are in this fight for different reasons. Both are seeking to be seen politically as relevant, someone who other political big shots need to deal with. Both are also very concerned with the deficit debate, and the likely outcomes. Both are either smoking something or are becoming delusional as they age in thinking defense spending should increase.
Chuck Hagel is a Republican who beliefs date to a past era where both parties were far more responsible and reasonable. Hagel will approach the Defense Department with clear eyes and a recognition that the heady days of ever increasing defense budgets is over. Hagel will work to cut the defense budget using a larger measure of logic and common sense than worrying about whose congressional district is being hurt. Graham and McCain do not like that type of independence.
Hagel will be implementing President Obama’s policies, not creating them himself. The President recognizes that “balanced budget reductions” means a shared spending curtailment. Tax code expenditures (those lovely loopholes), entitlements, defense, and all other discretionary have to be on the table.
Ridiculous spending programs like the F-35 where Congress votes to spend more and the Defense Departments says we don’t want to spend more, will be over with Chuck Hagel. Graham and McCain know this.
For sure it is appropriate for Graham and McCain to hold their own foreign policy and supporting defense views. They must, however, who won the election two months ago.