Barney Frank On Chuck Hagel: “I Think He’d Be Very Good”

The man who now says that the Purple Heart veteran was "aggressively bigoted" in the past and should therefore be kept from consideration for the cabinet … said something a little different not so long ago:

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who is Jewish, said he did not object to what has become one big point of contention about Hagel: an allusion to the “Jewish lobby,” in reference to advocates for Israel in Congress and elsewhere. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having Portuguese lobbies, Jewish lobbies, Greek lobbies,” Frank said. “I think he’d be very good. … You need someone intelligent to help cut that budget.”

So why did he suddenly change his mind?

Smearing Hagel, Ctd

Barney Frank calls Chuck Hagel “aggressively bigoted” in his opposition to the nomination of James Hormel:

“I cannot think of any other minority group in the U.S. today where such a negative statement and action made in 1998 would not be an obstacle to a major Presidential appointment.”

But that obscures the point, doesn’t it?

Does Barney know of any other minority group whose image has shifted so quickly since 1998? Gays were still among the last despised minorities back then – which helps explain why president Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, enforced the ban on HIV-positive tourists and immigrants, and doubled the rate of discharges from the military on grounds of homosexual orientation. But Clinton – who ran ads in 1996 bragging of his opposition to marriage equality – is a civil rights hero now, because he has evolved. And the president is congratulated for evolving as well. Whereas Hagel, a Republican, cannot even have an apology accepted, and is penalized for his past views.

Who Paid For The Log Cabin Republican Ad Against Hagel? Ctd

A reader writes:

Think about it this way: Republicans who want to smear a guy are saying that he's insufficiently devoted to gay civil rights.

Sure, they're being hypocritical. But it's still kind of an extraordinary thing. It's been only a few years since gay marriage was cynically used as a bogus wedge issue — something that would gin up fear and mobilize the GOP base. Now they're taking the opposite tack in their cynical use of homosexuality for political ends. People who aren't 100% on board with civil rights are unfit for high office.

The party is still awful and cynical. But it does show real progress.


I remember being glued to your blog when you were covering Richard Grenell getting booted from the Romney campaign. But I may have missed this, but where was Log Cabin then? What was R. Clarke Cooper saying then?

Here's what he said:

Ric was essentially hounded by the far right and far left. The Romney campaign has lost a well-known advocate of conservative ideas and a talented spokesman, and I am certain he will remain an active voice for a confident U.S. foreign policy.

Hounded by the far right and the far left? You mean: like Hagel?

By the way, this piece in the Washington Blade has some helpful context. Cooper announced his resignation from Log Cabin Republicans the day after the ad came out. They have not found a permanent replacement. Meanwhile:

Asked by the Blade to explain why the Gay City News comments were different from the content of the anti-Hagel ad, Cooper said at that time Log Cabin hadn’t yet reached a final decision on Hagel. "What is consistent is where I’ve been on non-proliferation of nuclear capability in Iran, or Iran writ-large," Cooper said. “When I talked with a reporter from Gay City News a while back, he said, ‘Where are you on this?’ I said, ‘We’re looking at a lot of things with our coalition partners, I worked with Chuck Hagel, but we’re going to be putting out something soon.’”

Who are the "coalition partners"? And did they play a role in this ad?

Again, it reminds me of the NGLTF on the far left, constantly muddying gay issues with other ideological fixations to placate their "coalition partners." Or HRC's long obsession with abortion rights as integral to gay equality. The only similar LCR ad in recent history was one backing marriage equality in the Republican Convention. That made sense. Going out on a limb to torpedo a Republican nominee doesn't.

Who Paid For The Log Cabin Republican Ad Against Hagel? Ctd

The LCR executive director, Clarke Cooper, writes the Dish:

I have never discussed the names of specific Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) donors or ad costs. LCR ad campaigns are funded by a number of donors and that protocol will not change. Much like the ad campaign we ran during the RNC convention in August, LCR developed the ad first and then found funding by 'passing the hat' to a variety of supporters. No one should be shocked that LCR or any organization is careful to not give away or hint at an ad campaign before launch.

LCR is particularly concerned about Chuck Hagel as a potential Defense Secretary because of the role he would play in continuing to oversee the implementation of open service of the military. As you may recall, LCR brought the federal court case that resulted in an initial ruling declaring the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" (DADT) statute was in violation of the Constitution and that it should no longer be enforced as well as LCR lead on securing the Republican votes in the Congress to repeal DADT and we then served in a consultative capacity on the ministerial study and implementation guidance to military commanders. We are extremely invested in who will continue to preside over the remaining issues for LGBT military families.

We appreciate that senator Hagel has apologized for his words now that he is up for a major position, but what he said about Ambassador Hormel and his support of DADT should give the LGBT community pause about his sincerity. It is Chuck Hagel's weak record on preventing nuclear proliferation in Iran, lack of confidence in our ally Israel as well as an aggressive history against the LGBT community that is a negative combination for a Secretary of Defense nominee.

While he may have recently apologized for his anti-gay comments to save his possible nomination, Hagel cannot walk away from his consistent record against economic sanctions to try to change the behavior of the Islamist radical regime in Tehran. To use an US Army colloquial term, he is a "No Go" for the cabinet post. LCR has a long history of showing support for our ally Israel and questioning those who would be soft on Iran.

While it may surprise some to see LCR taking out a major ad in the New York Times, it's part of a broader communications strategy that LCR and its board have been developing over the last year. The next couple of years will be critical with regard to helping the Republican Party change its position on a number of LGBT issues and we as an organization have made strategic decisions to dramatically increase the sophistication and profile of our communications efforts. For background on LCR's stance regarding Iran, here is one of the statements we put out on Iran sanctions in my term. Anyone conducting basic research on LCR and or my national security experience would see the consistency in position.

I've asked some more questions and will report back to you what he says. Just for contrast, read this statement on Hagel by Cooper published in the Gay City Times only two weeks ago:

Asked how well suited Hagel was to handle the ongoing LGBT rights issues facing the Defense Department, R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, focused instead on the former senator’s military credentials and on his fidelity to Republican positions.

Speaking for himself and not for LCR, Cooper wrote in an email, “I recall working with Senator Chuck Hagel and his staff during the Bush administration and he was certainly not shy about expressing his criticisms. But despite his criticisms, Hagel voted with us most of the time and there was no question he was committed to advancing America’s interests abroad. As for his nomination to be secretary of defense, it is well worth noting that Senator Hagel is a combat veteran who has hands-on experience in the field. The battlefield is not just theory for him.”

So when the left group NGLTF was on the warpath for Hagel, Cooper defended him. Then his organization goes further than the far left in targeting a moderate Republican. I've simply never seen that happen before. And by the way, is Hagel's alleged "aggressive history" with respect to gay equality worse than, say, Paul Ryan, whom LCR recently endorsed? Where is the consistency?

Who Paid For The Log Cabin Republican Ad Against Hagel?

That's the question Glenn Greewald wants answered. I do too. The background: the Log Cabin Republicans recently took out a single-page ad in the NYT to oppose the possible nomination of Republican Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense. That's a head-scratcher all by itself. They don't have that much money lying around, and full-page NYT ads are expensive. I can see them finding the funds for such an ad if DOMA was at stake or if Hagel now opposed gay inclusion in the military or if he was a champion of the Christianist right or had not sincerely apologized to Hormel.

But because of foreign policy realism? Or skepticism toward military intervention after the catastrophes of Iraq and Afghanistan? I'm still scratching my head. And why would LCR take such a big step to oppose a man whom LCR's leader, R. Clark Cooper, described a few weeks ago thus:

"I recall working with Senator Chuck Hagel and his staff during the Bush administration and he was certainly not shy about expressing his criticisms. But despite his criticisms, Hagel voted with us most of the time and there was no question he was committed to advancing America's interests abroad. As for his nomination to be secretary of defense, it is well worth noting that Senator Hagel is a combat veteran who has hands-on experience in the field. The battlefield is not just theory for him."

Sounds like the sensible, candid Clark Cooper I know. The gay opposition to Hagel, moreover, comes from the purist left, which makes it even odder for LCR to hand over a moderate Republican nominee to the wolves of far-left groups like the National Gay And Lesbian Task Force. They almost always counter-balance them, especially when a Republican is involved. Glenn notes that opposition to marriage equality cannot possibly be the reason – since Hagel voted against the FMA and Log Cabin has endorsed countless Republicans far more hostile to gay equality than Hagel.

When Glenn asked Cooper about the financial backing for the ad, he replied that

the ad campaign "is being funded by a number of donors". But he not only refused to identify any of those donors, but also has thus far refused to say whether those "donors" are from the self-proclaimed "pro-Israel" community and/or are first-time donors to LCR.

That seems relevant to me. If some existing donors to LCR were asked by the board to finance a push against a Republican nominee, it would be strange but not completely out of order. But if new donors from the Greater Israel lobby paid for the ad, as part of their rather crude strategy of smearing Hagel by all possible means and angles, then it seems to me that Log Cabin Republican members and the wider gay community have a right to know who was behind this. And why.

The Purity Of The Neocon McCarthyism

You cannot really beat Ron Radosh, who refuses to call Chuck Hagel an anti-Semite but rather takes this route after a column by Pat Buchanan defending the possible defense secretary:

Why is a known anti-Semite like Buchanan endorsing Hagel? Does that tell us anything? What views which Buchanan thinks Hagel holds make Buchanan see him in such a favorable light? Is not this something we should be concerned about?

Others in the Greater Israel lobby are not so squeamish:

Reports from a number of sources indicate that key members of the American Jewish community have been informed by the White House that President Hussein Obama intends on Monday to nominate anti-Semite Chuck Hagel to be US Secretary of Defense.

That's all they've got. It's up to Obama to see if it's enough. We may find out tomorrow.

Quote For The Day

“It is fine, acceptable and necessary to conduct a debate on past and present positions and policy preferences of a candidate to be Secretary of Defense. It is, however, quite another thing to tag, brand, defame and distort his record. It is even worse to do what some, hiding behind the anonymity of ‘Concerned Jewish Leaders’ or ‘The Pro-Israel Community,’ have done:  labeling Hagel as Anti-Israeli, and then stepping it up, almost casually, as an Anti-Semite. Chuck Hagel is neither: He is not anti-Israeli and he is not an anti-Semite. In fact, if I were him I would lodge a complaint with the Anti-Defamation League, asking their assistance and support for being unfairly called an anti-semite,” – Alon Pinkas, former chief of staff to Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Grow A Pair, Mr President

After the neocon chorus on the Sunday talk-shows, with Butters and Lieberman doing their usual Likudnik dance, there's word that Obama might be wavering in picking the realist, candid Republican, Chuck Hagel, as defense secretary. Let's just say that if Obama allows Bill Kristol to scalp a Purple Heart veteran for defense – then he will be betraying the core base that got him the nomination and the presidency twice. People didn't vote for Obama to get a neoconservative-dictated foreign policy.

First the smearing and scalping of Rice; now the brutal AIPAC-led campaign against Hagel. I say: let the hearings begin, and let Hagel debate the wisdom of the Iraq war with those who campaigned so ferociously for it. Let a Purple Heart veteran Republican take on Bill Kristol and Dick Cheney. It would do the GOP a world of good as well.

So we'll see if, once again, Obama is rolled on the Middle East. If he is, we will know for sure he is not the change we believed in.

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.

Abraham Foxman, Bigot

Bob Wright helpfully filets the cultural cop:

The Washington Post's neocon blogger, Jennifer Rubin, quotes Abe Foxman saying Hagel's views "border on anti-Semitism."

In case you don't know who Abe Foxman is, he's the guy who believes that, though Jews can build synagogues wherever they want, and Christians can build churches wherever they want, Muslims shouldn't build mosques wherever they want. (This may sound like a bigoted position, but it's grounded in respect for relatives of 9/11 victims, whose anguish, says Foxman, "entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted.")

The other thing you should know about Foxman is that he's head of the Anti-Defamation League. So far as I can tell, that means he's opposed to defamation unless the target is (1) a Muslim who aspires to build a mosque in the wrong place; or (2) someone whose views on Israel don't meet with his approval–in which case he'll personally do the defaming.

Snap. Bob also gives us a helpful round-up of those voices standing up to the usual tactics of the Greater Israel lobby and in defense of Chuck Hagel as a worthy nominee for secretary of defense:

Already, Hagel has been defended by a strikingly diverse array of voices, including (in addition to people I mentioned in the piece) Dana Milbank of the Washington Post; John Judis of the New Republic; Andrew Sullivan of the Daily Beast; Scott McConnell and Daniel Larison of The American Conservative; the progressive pro-Israel group J Street; the Center for American Progress blog ThinkProgress; Stephen Walt of Foreign Policy and Harvard; Steve Clemons of the Atlantic and the New America Foundation; Jim Fallows of the Atlantic; Emily Hauser of Open Zion; Marsha B. Cohen and Jim Lobe at Lobeblog; Nicholas Kristof of the The New York Times; Clyde Prestowitz, formerly US Trade Representative in a Republican administration, in Foreign Policy; Robert Merry at The National Interest; former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer; and former US Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller (author of the book in which Hagel's "Jewish Lobby" quote appears). Update: Also, former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

And growing.