Guys, I know that everyone loves a good controversy, but the Chuck Hagel pick is not controversial, Republicans just want it to be. That’s not to say they have to like him, or that they should all vote for him. It’s just that Hagel is a Republican, and not a fake one either. Over his two terms in the senate, he got an 84% approval rating from the American Conservative Union for being a fiscal Reagan Republican, he was staunchly pro-life and was loved by the Christian Coalition on the NRA. Sounds like someone who would be an issue for Democrats, not Republicans, but most Democrats are ready to support him. So, Hagel’s confirmation should be a slam dunk, right? Let’s take a look at some headlines:
Politico: Chuck Hagel Pick: Final Snub of George W. Bush
Also Politico: Hagel Nomination: Why Is Obama Picking a Fight?
NBC News: Despite Opposition, Will Hagel Win the Nomination?
The Atlantic Wire: Chuck Hagel: A Highly Controversial Nominee Almost Certain To Be Confirmed
The Washington Post: Digging in for confirmation fight, Obama nominates Hagel to head Pentagon, Brennan for CIA
FoxNews.com: Criticism, concern about Hagel nomination spreads beyond Capital Hill
Granted I’m cherry picking a little here, but I also ignored sources with an overt conservative bent (Fox News not withstanding). Yes, Hagel has ruffled a few feathers, particularly neocons who really didn’t like it when Hagel became the most prominent Republican to question the Iraq War. He made a homophobic comment about a U.S. ambassador, but he has since apologized, and, as seems to be the popular term now, evolved on gay rights.
Yes, Chuck Hagel is probably more willing than nearly any Senate Republican to oversee the withdrawal from Afghanistan and a pared down Department of Defense, and the most hawkish members of the Senate can vote against him on those grounds, but guess what: he’s about as conservative as you are going to get for an Obama nominee, especially with Democrats holding a 55-45 advantage in the Senate (no House vote is needed to confirm cabinet positions).
What’s really going on here is that Republicans want to weaken Obama with one fight to have a better shot at the coming ones: the debt ceiling, sequester cuts left over from the fiscal cliff mess, a new EPA administrator and gun control to name a few. If Republicans have points to make about those issues, then let them make them, but it is irresponsible for the media to repeat their Hagel concerns without context.