Hurting Hagel
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Feb 18, 2013 | 2248 views |  0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. confer at the start of a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the appointment Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense on Capitol Hill in Washington. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press/File
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. confer at the start of a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the appointment Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense on Capitol Hill in Washington. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press/File
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A presidential spokesman called the blocking of a vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee for defense secretary “extremely unfortunate.”

Agreed, but this Republican attack on Chuck Hagel is oh-so-much more.

Hagel is a former U.S. senator from Nebraska. The Republican was in the Senate 10 years ago as the United States was inching toward a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq. The Vietnam veteran and 47 of his Republican colleagues in the Senate (along with 29 Democrats) voted to put the nation on a path to war. Within months of invasion, the Bush White House’s main justification for invasion — Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction — proved to be a fiction.

The neoconservatives promised that by toppling Saddam Hussein, the United States would plant a garden of democracy in the Middle East. What we got instead was a bloody, expensive and painful occupation of an Arab nation.

By the middle of the last decade, Hagel began to speak out against this disaster, a decision that irritated his Republican colleagues who were still sticking to the party line. Today, many of those one-time colleagues — Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in particular — are holding up Hagel’s nomination, delaying an up-or-down vote for one more week.

Hagel hurt his cause with a lackluster and stilted performance during his confirmation hearings. However, it’s fair to suggest that opposition to the nominee is based on a personality clash rather than strictly on his qualifications.
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