Nomination of Republican Hagel Gives Rightbloggers a Chance to Reach Out Ha Ha No Not Really
Only one SecDef candidate has been rejected in the past by the Senate: John Tower, also a former Republican Senator but seeking to serve a Republican Administration. Tower was rejected for drinking and fooling around, or for ties to defense contractors, depending on whom you believe.
Hagel, however, is accused of what in a different context would be called political incorrectness. Though like any American politician who wants to get anywhere he has repeatedly celebrated U.S.-Israel relations, he has also shown some interest in the plight of Palestinians, and referred to a "Jewish lobby," meaning advocates of Israeli interests in Washington, a town where chiropodists probably have a lobby and other religious groups certainly do, at least de facto.
No one believes that a longtime establishment figure like Hagel is going to throw Israel to the wolves, in contradiction of more than 60 years of U.S. policy. But with Obama getting slightly fewer Jewish votes in 2012 than in 2008, rightbloggers sense an opportunity. So the game is to try and make it look as if Hagel likes to spend long weekends playing concentration camp in his swastika-lined den, and thus embarrass his nominator.
"Chuck Hagel, anti-Semite?" asks Danielle Pletka at the American Enterprise Institute. Pletka lets us know that Hagel has supporters and detractors on this score, and "these accusations and defenses have come from serious people." We took this at first for a joke, but in the course of the article lost faith that Pletka knows what a joke is. The first very serious charge: Hagel's "reported reference to 'the Jews,' and the clear fact that despite ample evidence to the contrary, he believes there is a monolithic creature that is 'the Jews,'" just as one might refer to "the Swiss" and "the Russians," presumably with equal viciousness. Also, Hagel has referred to a "Jewish lobby" when actually, Mr. Smarty-Pants Anti-Semite, "the pro-Israel lobby is made up of both Christians and Jews."
Perhaps sensing that she is losing the crowd, Pletka moves on to more serious charges, e.g., "Hagel's conviction that were it not for 'the Jews,' US relations with the Middle East would be copacetic." This is not a Hagel quote, and Pletka does not supply a citation, for reasons you can guess.
Pletka closes, "there is a pall that hangs over the man when it comes to questions about both Jews and Israel... Let's just say that there are reasonable questions that may be asked about Hagel's views of both the Jews and the US-Israel relationship..." Then she taps the side of her nose and does the Monty Python bit where Eric Idle wants to know if Terry Jones' wife is a goer.
Pletka also addresses the claims of Hagel's defenders. First, "denying the charge is actually easier than leveling it," she says, so the defenders should give up two points or a saving throw. Then she treats specific examples, e.g., "On the notion that Chuck Hagel is not an anti-Semite because he simply has the courage to stand up to the Likud, Zionist, Jewish lobby, etc... this is rank garbage. Yes, it's commonly strewn about Washington, but that doesn't make it attar of roses... It does not take courage to do these things; just some rich patrons and a loud voice - viz. the ultra-left J Street." (That last is a group of Jews -- if we may be so anti-Semitic as to call them that -- and non-Jews who are dovish, so presumably Hagel can like them and still be an anti-Semite.)
Other assertions of Hagel's anti-Semitism were no better. A.J. Rosenberg wrote a Hagel endorsement called "Obama defeats the Israel Lobby." This appeared in Al-Jazeera, which has become the rightbloggers' hook for the story -- partly, we guess, because the Qatari news org had abstained from the general enthusiasm for the Iraq War in its early days and rightbloggers are still sore about that, and partly because Al Gore just sold Current TV to them and everything Al Gore does is also treason.
The Main Stream Media covers for Obama again.
"Al Jazeera Cheers Hagel's Nomination," Weasel Zippers thundered. "Who they chose to write the article speaks volumes about Al Jazeera, they went with anti-Semitic Jew MJ Rosenberg, whose hatred for Israel is so intense far-left Media Matters was forced to fire him for making anti-Semitic remarks."
Rosenberg's "anti-Semitic remarks" seem to consist of Rosenberg calling certain U.S. Israel hawks "Israel-firsters." Very insulting, certainly (only conservatives are allowed to question someone's patriotism -- look it up, it's in the Constitution), but not in itself proof that Rosenberg's a Jew-hating Jew (but then, can we prove he isn't? Aha!).
"AL JAZEERA CELEBRATES HAGEL NOMINATION" hollered Breitbart.com's William Bigelow. "How bad is Chuck Hagel for the state of Israel? Al Jazeera is rejoicing in his nomination for Secretary of Defense." Bigelow also told us Rosenberg was an "anti-Semitic Jew" responsible for "anti-Semitic vitriol such as calling those Americans who support a strong Israel 'Israel Firsters'" -- "such as," in this case, meaning "the only extremely weak example being."
"Al-Jazeera loves Hagel," gurgled Jack Shaw. "And well they should; he is one more knife in Israel's back, brought to you by that lover of the Jewish state, Barack Obama." We think that last bit was sarcasm.
Speaking in 2009 on Al Jazeera -- AHA! -- Hagel said regarding a global nuclear weapons drawdown, "Let's begin with the two nuclear powers that now are responsible for ninety-six percent of the nuclear weapons in the world. Russia and the United States have a particular obligation. We must join in some unison here to lead the rest of the world."
OK, try and guess what rightbloggers made of this. Give up? "Hagel: U.S. should give up nukes before rogue nations," wrote Aaron Klein of World Net Daily. The "rogue nations" in this case are Iran and North Korea, one of which has no nuclear weapons, and the other of which has a bomb but so no other vestiges of civilization. (For other reasons why Russia and America might be the most appropriate starting teams for nuclear disarmament, see War, Cold.)
Other geniuses picked this up, including the spectacularly failed Tea Party Senate candidate Joe Miller. "Chuck Hagel is a member of the board of the Global Zero group, which advocates deep unilateral cuts in America's nuclear deterrent and ridding the world (or more precisely, the Western world) of nuclear weapons," writes Zbigniew Mazurak of Conservative Daily News. "(But they don't mind Russia's and China's huge nuclear arsenals, or North Korea's and Iran's nuclear programs. They only have a problem with American, British, French, and Israeli nuclear weapons.)" Psst, Zbig, ixnay and on the itish-Bray etcetera-ay -- we're saving that for the damning eve-of-vote revelation.
Also on Al Jazeera -- DOUBLE AHA! -- where an emailer asked, "Can the rest of the world be persuaded to give up their arsenal when the image of the U.S. is that of the world's bully? Don't we indeed need to change the perception and the reality before asking folks to lay down their arms (nuclear or otherwise)?" Hagel replied, "Well, her observation is a good one and it's relevant. Yes, to her question, and again I think that's all part of leadership..."
Oh, we see several of you got it already: "Hagel Agrees that America is 'the World's Bully,'" says the Washington Free Beacon, and several rightbloggers picked it up. "In an interview on Al Jazeera, Hagel agreed that the U.S. is 'the world's bully,'" repeated Jack Hoogendyk of the Citizens' Alliance for Life & Liberty. "HAGEL TO AL JAZEERA: AMERICA 'WORLD'S BULLY,'" mangled Breitbart.com. "Unworthy of his appointment," huffed Bluegrass Pundit.
The Weekly Standard's Daniel Halper took what we might call in this context the moderate position: "Does Hagel Believe America is 'the World's Bully'?" asked his headline, though his answer is what you'd expect ("This clip from an appearance on Al Jazeera seems to suggest...").