"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." - George Washington
Friday, February 01, 2013
Hagel was so bad...
Chuck just stunk up Senate
By JOHN PODHORETZ
New York Post
Last Updated: 11:25 PM, January 31, 2013
Posted: 10:32 PM, January 31, 2013
‘I’ve said many, many things over many, many years,” said Chuck Hagel, the president’s nominee for secretary of defense, in a Senate hearing yesterday. He was trying, for the umpteenth time during his testimony, to explain away another of the many, many impolitic statements that have come to light over the past couple of months.
Well, as a result of this confirmation hearing — the most disastrous of its kind since another veteran senator, John Tower, blew himself up in his pursuit of the same post back in 1989 — Hagel has probably lost many, many votes to confirm him as secretary of defense.
Embarassing: Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel yesterday actually claimed it’s not a policy-making job, among endless other boners.
Though he was being asked about things he had said over the course of the past 15 years, it was what Hagel said yesterday — and how he said what he said — that had his defenders reeling in shock and even his critics aghast at how poorly he handled himself.
Hagel said many, many things yesterday — incoherent things, confused things, wrong things, untrue things, and things that seemed to contradict other things he had said previously. Some were about Israel, some about Iran, some about American policy.
First he said it was the policy of the Obama administration to “contain” Iran — meaning it will allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon and then try to box it in.
Now, that is exactly what many of us fear is the true policy of the Obama administration, especially in light of Hagel’s appointment.
For not only has Hagel spoken approvingly of engaging with the Iranians, he has his own checkered history when it comes to holding Iran to account. It includes voting against a 2007 resolution that declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps — perhaps the world’s foremost trainer and funder of state-sponsored terrorism — a terrorist organization.
In trying to defend that vote yesterday, he said he had done so (along with newly minted Secretary of State John Kerry) because it was an assault on an “elected, legitimate” government — by which he meant Iran’s theocracy. And because, he said, voting for the resolution would have given the Bush administration a green light to go to war with Iran.
Well, that ludicrous notion is in the past. What’s in the present is that the stated policy of the Obama administration toward the Iranian nuke is “prevention” — that it will not allow Iran to get the bomb, period, and will do what is necessary to ensure it doesn’t happen.
So Hagel corrected himself, kind of: “I was just handed a note that I misspoke — that I said I supported the president’s position on containment. If I said that, I meant to say that we don’t have a position on containment.” Whatever that means.
Later he said he was sorry he’d called the Iranian government elected and legitimate; rather, he should have said it was recognized.
“I don’t understand Iranian politics,” Hagel said — which would be understandable if, say, Khloe Kardashian were testifying. But Hagel is going to be a key official determining US policy toward Iran, and one would hope he’d bring a bit of pre-existing knowledge to the table.
He was also sorry to have said Israel keeps the Palestinians “caged in like wild animals.” Oh, and he didn’t mean to have drawn a moral equivalence between Israel and Hezbollah by referring to “the sickening slaughter on both sides” during a war inaugurated entirely by Hezbollah’s rockets.
As for American policy, he and his ex-friend Sen. John McCain got into quite a tussle over the surge in Iraq, which Hagel described before it began as “the worst foreign-policy disaster since Vietnam.”
This is something about which he was obviously mistaken — even if you think the war itself was a foreign-policy disaster, the surge certainly made it far less of one — and yet he could neither find the words to defend his 2007 view nor the words to say things had worked out differently from how he had expected them to go.
“There are a lot of things I don’t know about,” Hagel said, when it came to America’s defenses. “If confirmed, I intend to know a lot more than I do.”
But why should he bother? After all, he said in perhaps the most head-shaking comment of the day, “It doesn’t matter what I think.”
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) begged to differ: “It matters what you think,” she found herself saying in response.
Or maybe this was the most head-shaking comment: Defense secretary is “not a policymaking position,” and because he has to work in consultation with others and in service to the president, he won’t be “running anything.”
After yesterday, maybe he won’t. Because maybe, after this horror show, the Senate will decide it just can’t countenance confirming Chuck Hagel. That would be a shocker, but no less shocking than his performance.