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Regular readers of this site know that I have not been in favor of former Senator Chuck Hagel’s nomination—but even his biggest detractors did not expect the performance he gave today during his senate confirmation hearings. It wasn’t that he said things that people disagreed with, or got caught with some sort of scandal–he looked totally unprepared and out-classed. He was pathetic.
The guy knew what he would face…his own statements and record, many of them were posted here. Chuck Hagel had weeks to figure out responses–and OH MY GOD, he didn’t even understand what containment means.
When being questioned on Iran he said questioning the Obama administration supports “containment” (allowing Iran to get the bomb). Then what had to be less than five minutes later he walked it back;
“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,”
The progressive National Journal’s Michael Hirsh Called The Containment Exchange, “Perhaps One Of The Worst Moments In A Fairly Bad Day For Hagel.” “Perhaps one of the worst moments in a fairly bad day for Hagel came when even one of his apparent supporters, the committee chairman, Carl Levin, D-Mich., was forced to restate his position for him after Hagel twice misspoke about a critical issue: whether the Obama administration would accept mere ‘containment’ of Iran’s nuclear program, rather than prevention of it.”
Later he called the Iranian government (which stole the last election) and “elected legitimate government.” And when asked about it by NY Senator Gillibrand retracted that statement:
“What I meant to say–should have said–it’s recognizable,” Hagel said. “It’s been recognized, is recognized at the United Nations. Most of our allies have embassies there. That’s what I should have said, and…thank you.”
RECOGNIZED? As in “Hey aren’t You Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?”
Lindsey Graham took him to the woodshed. The South Carolina senator hammered Hagel on his “Jewish lobby’s” comment. He asked the former senator if he could “name one person intimidated” by the Israeli lobby. Hagel couldn’t. “I didn’t have in mind a single person,” he said. Then Graham asked Hagel if he could name “something that was dumb” that the Israeli lobby had forced U.S. legislators to do, and Hagel said he didn’t know that either.
The absolutely worst moment for Hagel came when questioned by freshman Senator Ted Cruz, Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) destroyed Hagel over his 2009 interview with Al Jazeera where he agreed with a description of the United States as the “world’s bully,” and one that called for Israel to be cited for War Crimes
“A number of questions were asked of me today about specific programs, submarine programs, different areas of technology and acquisitions, and our superior technology. I’ve said I do not know enough about it. I don’t. There are a lot of things I don’t know about. If confirmed, I intend to know a lot more than I do. I will have to. But at the same time, I would never think that this, as I said earlier, is about me or I will be running anything. I will be the leader. I’ll be responsible. I will be accountable, but I’ve got to rely on the right teams, the right people to bring those people together. And again, it’s accountability and responsibility. I would stop there, if that gives you some sense of how I would intend to do this business.”
If you asked me this morning if Hagel would be confirmed by the Senate, despite my objections to his nomination I would have answered in the affirmative. After today’s embarrassing display there is a legitimate chance he may be blocked or even have his name withdrawn before this process is over.