Okay, so what's behind the battle over the Hagel nomination? With all the talk we have heard and all that has been written in recent years about uncompromising partisanship, the Republicans have fought to, in effect, make sure Democrat John Kerry would be the choice for secretary of state and now balk at the choice of a fellow Republican and former U.S. senator from Nebraska to head up the Department of Defense. In fact, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has called this ostensibly bipartisan choice by the president an "in your face" insult to the Grand Old Party. Are Republicans really that easily insulted?
One would think not. They got ignored by President Clinton when "Bubba" decided to wage war in the Balkans. They were similarly ignored by Obama when "The One" decided to intervene in Libya's civil war. That didn't seem to leave them indignant at the insults, despite the fact that the U.S. Constitution, assigns to Congress, not the president, the power to "declare war." Indeed, there are times when you might wonder if it is even possible to insult members of Congress, Republicans or Democrats.
But there may be either more or less to the Hagel controversy than meets the eye. On the surface, the fight is over Hagel's allegedly tepid support of Israel and his less than wholehearted support for sanctions against Iran over that country's alleged efforts to produce a nuclear weapon. Republicans, and sometimes the headliners in Israel, like to accuse Obama of being insufficiently pro-Israel and not tough enough on Iran. The GOP reinforces that argument, of course, by making the same charges against the president's choice for defense secretary.
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Jack Kenny (photo)