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January 15, 2013

Chuck Hagel Gets Chuck Schumer's Blessing, Will Be Next Secretary Of Defense

Chuck Schumer is seen as one of the Democrats top supporters of Israel (certainly in the Senate) so his thumbs up on Schumer will give cover to Democrats to vote for Hagel.

Ben Smith seems to think this means "The Pro-Israel Lobby" won.

The bad news for Hagel's allies among "realist" foreign policy thinkers and on the foreign policy left is that the nominee appears to have gotten Schumer's support by repudiating virtually everything they liked about him.

Schumer cites "several key assurances." I count about 12 points, most of them related to Israel and Iran, on which Hagel has reversed past positions or his perceived stances, points that now come across in Schumer's voice, but which he will have to presumably reiterate in his own words in televised hearings. This was always a likely endpoint of the battle over Hagel, which has been a proxy war over Israel and over a broader foreign policy philosophy, but it has come with remarkable speed and comprehensiveness.

Are these "key assurances" enforceable in any way? Of course not. Hagel is engaging in one of the oldest tricks in the book, confirmation conversion. The key is simply getting passed the Senate, once you have the job you can go back to doing what it is you really believe. Remember when Sonia Sotomayor and Elana Kagan sounded like Scalia on fidelity to the Constitution during their confirmation hearings? How's that working out?

Obama didn't pick Hagel because he was going to be the second coming of Donald Rumsfeld but because he'd give him the veneer of "bi-partisan" support for his new found "flexibility" when it comes to dealing with nations like Russia, Iran and of course, Israel.

Schumer simply needed cover to do what he, as a partisan hack and number 3 Democrat in the Senate was always going to do....vote for Obama's guy.

It's going to be a long, long 4 years.

Reminder: The problem with Hagel isn't just his views on Israel, it's that he's not in any way qualified for the job.

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posted by DrewM. at 05:58 PM

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