It looks as though the White House wants to pick a fight for the sake of picking a fight:
On the Democratic side there is no reason at all other than pressure from the White House to support Hagel. In fact political opponents, especially in 2014 Senate races in swing and red states, will be happy to use any support for Hagel as fodder. Democrats’ other agenda items (e.g., gun control) and their fight to prevent entitlement reform will get sidetracked, at least for some time, to engage in a high-visibility fight none of them want.
On the other hand, Hagel’s nomination is energizing pro-Israel conservatives (which are an overwhelming percentage of conservatives).
…it is clear that there is no voice of restraint or common sense in the White House that could restrain the president from an inexplicably dumb political misstep. As the rest of the grown-ups depart the stage (Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner), the president will be surrounded by fewer people willing to give him honest advice and more enablers with extreme political views and rotten judgment. In other words, Hagel is a symptom of the unchecked arrogance of the president as he enters his second term.
Mickey Kaus can’t figure it out, either:
Can’t Obama find a
“anti-Israel”… Likud-skeptical figure who didn’t flamboyantly and self-righteously get wrong the most important military decision since the original 2003 Iraq invasion (which Hagel, by the way, voted to authorize)? Sure, Hillary and Kerry opposed the surge too. But not everyone did–not even everyone who opposed the war. Gen. Anthony Zinni, for example, isn’t someone likely to please Bill Kristol and AIPAC–but after opposing Bush’s invasion he had the balls to say that a surge was worth trying.
Have Hagel – or John Kerry – shown that kind of ability to transcend their own media images and biases? The journalist Elizabeth Drew asked for a phrase to describe the troika of Hagel, Kerry and Biden, a phrase better than “the three amigos.” How about “Three guys who voted for the Iraq War when that was the safe thing to do, flipped when everyone around them flipped and then were wrong about the surge”?
If you thought there was buyers’ remorse last year, wait until the next four.