GOP Farce at Hagel Hearings

Republican Chuck Hagel, President Obama's choice for defense secretary, listens as he testifies before the Senate Armed Servi
Republican Chuck Hagel, President Obama's choice for defense secretary, listens as he testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

"Tell me I was right on Iraq!"

Essentially, that's what Sen. McCain said during most of his time in today's confirmation hearing for Chuck Hagel. And that sums up why the die had been cast on the Hagel nomination, before we even got to these hearings today, which I am currently at. This vote, I believed (and now believe more than ever) is a referendum on neocon policy, not on Chuck Hagel.

Chuck Hagel, one of the first Republicans to stand up to President Bush on Iraq. Chuck Hagel who opposed the surge in Iraq, and in Afghanistan, and is against preemptive wars as a first option. Chuck Hagel being confirmed would put a nail in the coffin of neocon military policy. And that drives senators on the right insane.

That's why instead of looking ahead to issues we urgently face, in terms of a readied military that can meet commitments, McCain tried to bully Senator Hagel into saying McCain was right on the war in Iraq, and on the surge there. Of course, McCain wasn't right on the war, and wasn't right on the surge. Iraq stabilized not because of our increased military presence, but because of the Sunni awakening. In short, Iraq stabilized when Iraqis finally wanted that. But that wasn't going to keep McCain from blowing up at Chuck Hagel for daring to challenge him and other neocons.

The end of neocon rule is why Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma spent his question time presenting a blog from ultra-conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin, a favorite of the neocon cabal.

It's why Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama spent his time focusing on a paper that Hagel signed on to from Global Zero, a group which strives for the ideal of a world rid of nuclear weapons. That's a position of Ronald Reagan, by the way. But, yep, even supporting the ideals of "The Gipper" isn't sufficiently neoconservative, anymore. And so, Sessions argued that bilateral, negotiated, and verifiable reductions in the world's nuclear arsenal wasn't realistic, so it shouldn't be pursued.

Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, rather than focus on issues facing our troops, spent his time, in desperation, dealing with the false and offensive smear against Hagel, regarding Israel. If Wicker is interested in talking with a Jewish-American war veteran, I'm sitting right in front of him, and I wholeheartedly support Chuck Hagel. I'm not holding my breath on that, though, because we all know Wicker's line of questioning was only to serve the purpose of furthering false smears.

Newly sworn in Senator Ted Cruz of Texas perhaps takes the cake. He played (without permission from the Chair) clips of Chuck Hagel on television, which were awkwardly cut off in the middle of Hagel speaking. Cruz seemed to say that the clips were a smoking gun of Chuck Hagel being anti-American and anti-Israel. It didn't take long for reporters to discover that the clips were cut off intentionally, to take Hagel's words completely out of context. Hagel's full answers were completely reasonable. So, not only was Ted Cruz trying to pass off a lie in a Senate hearing, but he was extraordinarily sloppy and amateurish in trying to do it.

In short, Republicans have made a farce of these hearings. We know most of them are neoconservative, and therefore will vote against Hagel as a means to preserve their own influence and the influence of other neocons over our military. More reasonable senators (all of the Democrats and some Republicans), making up a majority, will vote for Hagel, precisely because he is a lot more measured and deliberate in his positions than Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld.

And so, all the money spent by the Sheldon Adelsons of the world, to sink this nomination, is a colossal waste. Chuck Hagel will be confirmed, and neoconservative influence over our military policy will finally, and thankfully, be dead.

(Note: I am live-tweeting from the hearings, at my Twitter page, linked below)