Chuck Hagel Meets Fierce Senate Opposition
Image taken from: letters.ocregister.com

Chuck Hagel Meets Fierce Senate Opposition

(The Verge) – In a feat of pure party politics, the confirmation of President Obama’s Defense Secretary Nominee Chuck HagelĀ  was delayed in Congress last week as a caucus of Republican voters vowed to delay his confirmation with any procedural tactic they could put forth. The former Nebraska Senator has met sharp criticism from the Senate for his controversial foreign policy views.
In a 14-11 vote, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved the nomination, but Republicans still vowed to keep the debate open, which would require a 60 vote approval instead of simple majority (although Democrats seem to have the numbers to get that done). Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remained adamant about the situation, saying a full Senate vote would come shortly after the committee hearing. But Republicans were saying otherwise, threatening to filibuster their way to influence the nomination (and that, they did). Only the first time a cabinet nominee was successfully filibustered, Hagel’s nomination has become a real source of debate, that even crosses party lines.
Hagel is a Republican, but has been a close Obama-protege since his first inauguration, figuring to be his VP candidate during the ’08 campaign. So, Republicans remain stubborn to Hagel’s nomination as he has been the poster-image of controversy in the past decade and now he is Obama’s selection to head the Defense Dpt.

Chuck Hagel, Obama’s pick for Defense Secretary, is meeting sharp criticism in Congress. Image taken from: si.wsj.net

But what is all this fuss over Hagel’s past? (Because in reality this man is a decorated Vietnam veteran with battlefield experience and an impressive resume’). So is the delay just a Republican ploy to refute anything the Democratic President puts forth…?
Well Hagel’s time in the Senate was marked by a few instances where (possibly), his true colors were shown. He opposed the initial War in Iraq, saying more resources needed to be allocated to Afghanistan to ensure a successful mission there. He also made off-putting comments about Israel that to this day, he remains apologetic about. In discussing the influence of Israel on U.S. government, Hagel said that the “Jewish lobby” has influenced votes and made for a convoluted lawmaking body.
To add some fuel to the fire, Hagel also opposed strong sanctions on Iran, citing “strategic reasons” and adding that the U.S. should open negotiations with militant groups such as Hamas, something the U.S. has never done.
As controversial as this may be, he also refused to sign an open letter to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin regarding Russian antisemitism. So pundits then began associating his name with anti-semi tic tendencies, especially after the “Jewish lobby” incident. (Although his refusal to sign also came from his policy to never sign letters to foreign heads of state & he did conversely write to then-President Clinton about the horrors of antisemitism).
With all this baggage, Hagel drudged forward toward the Senate hearing, meeting sharp criticism from Senators like Lindsey Graham and John McCain, who each had an earful for the former Senator.
Graham called his nomination one of the most aggressive overtones of the Obama administration, saying that Israeli relations could become a heated debate. McCain also urged more information be brought up about the Benghazi incident before the nomination clears the Senate. Republican senators also said that more information about Hagel’s previous speeches needed to be analyzed, to make sure he was not representing any anti-Israel groups.
Through all of this commotion, Harry Reid remains confident that the nomination will be cleared and soon, Hagel will be able to take office as the successor of Leon Panetta. With an acute defense-spending mind, Hagel has shown a cast of prominent political writers that his ideas are actually in the mainstream (especially his views on descaling some of the Pentagon’s spending). Writers like Tom Friedman are pulling for his vision to be infused into the cabinet as soon as possible, and with more and more Republican tactics running out, expect his nomination shortly. (The GOP may also just be trying to send a message; and that has been taken. Average middle-class folks now know the history of the man who is poised to head our military and defense spending…).
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/02/01/us/01sanger-1/01sanger-1-blog480.jpg
Hagel is poised to become the new Defense Secretary, yet has met fierce opposition from figures such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Image taken from: graphics8.nytimes.com

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