Smearing Hagel, Ctd

The latest attempt to kill the nomination is a classic: find some comment or vote in the distant past and use identity politics to weaken him. And so we get this:

Mr. Hagel did not oppose the nomination when Mr. Hormel came before the panel. But he later spoke out against it, saying that an "openly, aggressively gay" man should not represent the United States. "They are representing America," Mr. Hagel said in an interview with The Omaha World-Herald. "They are representing our lifestyle, our values, our standards. And I think it is an inhibiting factor to be gay — openly, aggressively gay like Mr. Hormel — to do an effective job."

First off, this was 1997 – the year after DOMA, and fifteen years ago. Hagel didn't vote against it. The attitude toward gay people and servicemembers fifteen years ago was vastly different than today. The only thing that's relevant here is that Hagel needs to say he has moved on, and that he will implement the military's current policy of treating all servicemembers equally. A secretary of defense nominee should not be disqualified because he said something retrograde on a non-defense issue fifteen years ago. In the most dangerous scenario gay activists have faced – a potential constitutional amendment to consign us permanently to second class status – Hagel voted no.

I got a smug email this morning from an antagonist on this issue with the phrase: "Joke's On You." I thought it was revealing. For many fanatically pro-Israel Jewish-Americans I know, it all comes down in the end to tribalism.

But they project that onto others.

I am not a tribal gay; I am a person before I am a gay person. I have attacked HRC in the past in a way that would simply be inconceivable for many Jewish Americans and AIPAC. I oppose hate crime laws; I challenged the priority for employment discrimination laws. I backed the Boy Scouts in their freedom. For the vast bulk of the American Jewish Establishment, this is simply incomprehensible. Why would I betray "your people" as one TNR colleague used to ironically call my fellow gays when talking to me. "My people?" It tells you so much about a mindset. The mindset affects all vulnerable minorities, of course, gays included. But the enforcement of it on Israel questions in Washington is striking. And it is profoundly illiberal. It reflexively and even at this point unconsciously puts tribal loyalty before any argument of any kind. It is why the Middle East is so fucked up. And why on the Israel question, Washington is so fucked up as well.