After Obama’s deft introduction yesterday, the battle lines are clear. With Republican military-diplomatic heavyweights like Robert Gates, Colin Powell and Brent Scowcroft lining up to endorse him, what’s left in the anti-Hagel camp are Tea Party diehards and the ancient grudges of John McCain.
After his puppet Lindsey Graham’s attack on Hagel as an “in your face” move, McCain himself is lying back in the rhetorical tall weeds.
“Chuck Hagel served our nation with honor in Vietnam and I congratulate him on this nomination,” his former friend says. “I have serious concerns about positions Senator Hagel has taken on a range of critical national security issues in recent years, which we will fully consider in the course of his confirmation process before the Senate Armed Services Committee.”
While Hagel himself reaffirms his "unequivocal, total support for Israel" and endorsement of tough economic sanctions against Iran while apologizing for an insensitive anti-gay comment, critics are left with the acrobatic task of indicting him for his growing opposition to Bush’s Iraq folly after voting to authorize it in 2002 along with fellow Republicans.
Not many Democrats are likely to be lured into opposing his designation in the face of the President’s argument that Hagel will bring the hard-headed viewpoint of a former non-commissioned officer into the brass-heavy halls of the Pentagon.
Barack Obama wants him as Secretary of Defense and, barring any other adverse revelations, will get him.