So far we have a long list of people who don’t want Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense. A list that includes top Democrats and Republicans. It’s more of a chore to find those who actually wants Hagel for the post.
There have endorsements from Pat Buchanan and Tom Friedman, neither of whom are in the Senate, both of whom seem to have fastened onto Hagel because they think he’s Anti-Israel. There’s Joe Klein, of Primary Colors fame, now mostly overlooked, who has long descended into rabid ravings on his magazine blog. And none of those people are actually in Congress.
Obama seems to want Hagel in the job, but won’t say so. And that’s about it.
Barney Frank, now on the way out and with no reason to care what Obama thinks, is saying that he strongly opposes a Hagel nomination for gay rights reasons. Elliot Engel opposes it due to Hagel’s anti-Semitism. (Hagel has a real gift for making friends)
In the Senate, where it really counts, Senator Tom Coburn opposes Hagel because he doesn’t think he has the experience to lead the military through Obama’s ruthless defense cuts. Senator Rubio opposes Hagel over Cuba. Senator Cormyn will also oppose. Senator Schumer has refused to come out for, which means he’ll have to be bribed. Senator Lieberman has predicted a tough confirmation. Other Senators have said similar things and no one in the Senate appears to be particularly enthusiastic about him.
Like many turncoat Republicans, Hagel is not popular with either Democrats or Republicans. Traitors tend not to make many friends because neither side likes them or trusts them.
The Anti-Israel crowd has fastened on Hagel reflexively because the Pro-Israel crowd opposes him, the way that they fastened on Freeman, who had worked for two enemy governments and praised China’s restraint at Tienanmen Square. It’s become rather obvious that the Anti-Israel crowd would hysterically embrace anyone, no matter what else they did or believed, so long as they were occasionally critical of Israel.
The battle over Freeman, who had worked for China and Saudi Arabia, and endorsed China’s atrocities discredited the “Anyone Who Hates Israel” crowd. Bringing their endorsements to Hagel while shouting about the Jewish Lobby does Hagel no favors at all. But the battle over Hagel isn’t really about Israel. It’s about the broken relationships that Hagel left in his wake.
The lack of support for Hagel in the Senate shows how unqualified he is as a leader and as an influencer, skills that he would need in a top defense post. The coldness toward him in the Senate is not the fault of some Jewish conspiracy, but Hagel’s failures as a human being.
In a Senate where McCain and Kerry can get along swimmingly despite their dramatic differences on Vietnam, where Lieberman can bridge both sides of the aisle, and where there is a good deal of collegiality, no one has much fondness for Hagel. Kerry, for all his faults, is expected to be easily confirmed. Hagel, on the other hand, is despised. Both men have similar politics, but different personalities. Where most Senators have made friends, Hagel seems to have left behind only enemies.