Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Hagel's Nonexistent Political Courage


Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel's admirable military record is something he and his Democrat supporters will be sure to wave like a placard, as though that excuses everything else.

But given that, it's worth looking at Senator Hagels' political courage over the years, as Brett Stephens does in today's Wall Street Journal. Do his supporters on the left know, for instance, that he's on record as opposing abortion, even in cases of rape or incest? :

Oh, by the way, in 1995 Mr. Hagel told the Omaha World Herald that his opposition to abortion was total and made no exception for cases of rape or incest—a view that helped get him elected to the Senate the following year. He later voted repeatedly against allowing servicewomen to pay for abortions out of their own pocket, according to the left-wing magazine Mother Jones. Now that Congress has authorized the Defense Department to pay for abortions in cases of rape, it would be worth asking Mr. Hagel if he has evolved on this one, too.

Stephens also caught the same thing I did, Hagel's cowardice on Iraq:

In 2002, also when it was overwhelmingly popular, Mr. Hagel voted for the resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq. The lack of political courage is especially noteworthy here, because Mr. Hagel was, in fact, prescient in warning his Senate colleagues that "imposing democracy through force in Iraq is a roll of the dice."

Yet as the inimitable David Corn notes, "Bottom line: Hagel feared the resolution would lead to a war that would go badly but didn't have the guts to say no to the leader of his party."

In 2006, when the war in Iraq had become overwhelmingly unpopular, Mr. Hagel was on the right side of conventional wisdom. "The United States must begin planning for a phased troop withdrawal from Iraq," he wrote in the Washington Post that November. Still swimming with the tide the following year, he called the surge "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam."

The surge turned out to be George W. Bush's finest hour—a genuine instance of political courage as opposed to Mr. Hagel's phony ones. It rescued the U.S. from humiliating defeat. It gave Iraq a decent opportunity to stand on its feet. It allowed the U.S. to conduct an orderly withdrawal of its forces. And it might have led to a long-term security relationship with Baghdad had the Obama administration not fumbled the endgame. Again there is no public record of Mr. Hagel acknowledging any of this.

Hagel has already made a convenient apology for gay bashing Clinton nominee James Hormel for being "openly, aggressively gay," which Hagel felt disqualified him a for becoming our ambassador to Luxembourg.

But he's never been held to account for his completely wrong stance on other items, like his support for appeasement of Iran, normalizing relations with Hezbollah, Syria's Basher Assad and  Hamas or the other items Stephens mentions above.

But...Hagel  has certainly been consistent through the years when it comes to his animus towards Israel.No doubts there.

That's precisely why he was nominated by President Obama to be Secretary of Defense, and you won't see him apologizing for any of it - although we can probably expect a few pro forma remarks about a 'commitment to Israel's security'.

Hagel's supporters on the Left probably love his stance on Israel, Iran, Islamist terrorism and the Middle East in general.Are they prepared to swallow his views on abortion along with it?

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