What’s Going On With Hagel?

One important thing to remember about the Greater Israel lobby is that they never give in. Their passion prevents any doubt, any moderation, let alone any kind of defeat. But voting down a defense secretary nominee who’s a former Republican senator and war hero is a very tough mountain to climb. But they sure tried.

From anonymous ads and fliers to the hearings, which were more about Israel than the US, or Afghanistan, or our main defense concerns – such as the looming sequester. Hagel performed pathetically – having been coached to avoid any confrontation. But there was no John Tower-like character issues; the president clearly won the election; and Hagel is a former Republican senator with two Purple Hearts, for Pete’s sake.

But he is not one of today’s Republicans. And that makes him even more threatening to their unreconstructed neoconservative orthodoxy. They cannot tolerate discussion of their catastrophic wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, let alone a Republican exposing their incompetence and misjudgment.

So they first tried McCarthyism, implying that Hagel was an Iranian mole or an Al Jazeera Jihadist. Then they bruited a filibuster – pretty much unheard of, but of a piece with the modern GOP’s massive abuse of that procedure in recent years. Now they’re asking what is close to an impossibility:

Sen. Cruz has now decided to ask for the text of every speech Hagel has given over the last four years (text he appears not even to have in many cases) and records of the funding, membership and business dealings of every group or corporation he’s given a speech to. So basically Hagel has to be able to force various corporations and organizations to disclose confidential business and membership organization.

This is a request which could set a bewildering precedent. There’s also some noise about some alleged harassment not by Hagel but by someone in his former office. It’s probably grandstanding from Cruz, who wants to raise his national profile with the GOP base. But Carl Levin has apparently decided to let him have his way. So the delay continues.

I’m not privy to all the DC gossip on this right now, but I’ll know Hagel is confirmed only when the vote is held. Until then, the harassment, hazing and hatred of an apostate will continue. And yes, the implication is that Hagel is controlled by a foreign government and is hiding something. This coming from the Greater Israel lobby after an avalanche of ads whose funding remains completely opaque. Hey: it’s right out of the Rove playbook: accuse your opponent of exactly what you are doing yourself.