February 2nd, 2013

Shorter liberal/left commentary on the Hagel hearings:

…Hagel was abominable, but those Republicans were so darn mean to him.

This was the inevitable way they needed to go, right? Hagel turns out to be unprincipled and/or to have dreadful principles, plus no ability to articulate them or defend himself, making error after error, and even liberals and the left can see that and are embarrassed. But hey, those Republicans are just so darn cruel, vindictive, attacking, nit-picky, (choose whatever pejorative adjective you want), and will have been responsible for making his task more difficult when he becomes the Secretary of Defense.

For examples of this message, see this and this, among others. Here’s one of my favorite quotes (from Charles Stevenson vis James Fallows) [emphasis mine]:

They had no strong argument against Hagel, just a thousand cuts of little misstatements from his past.

Hagel wasn’t as crisp or clever or self-assured as I expected. He may not have realized how tough it is to be on the receiving end of TV-conscious Senators. He may also have thought that prior friendships would still count in this age of hyper-partisanship and after he became an apostate Republican.

I love that phrase “little misstatements” (take a look at some of them, if you’re unfamiliar with Hagel’s testimony). “Little misstatement” is almost as good as “misspoke,” another favorite of mine. The word should refer to slips of the tongue. But instead it’s often used to characterize serious mistakes, including mistakes of judgment. Hagel has had so many of those—both in the past and in the hearings—that it is actually rather frightening that this man will almost certainly be confirmed.

[ADDENDUM: I can’t resist including some of Hagel’s “little misstatements”—which most assuredly were not only “from his past”:

First [Hagel] said it was the policy of the Obama administration to “contain” Iran — meaning it will allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon and then try to box it in.

…not only has Hagel spoken approvingly of engaging with the Iranians, he has his own checkered history when it comes to holding Iran to account. It includes voting against a 2007 resolution that declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps — perhaps the world’s foremost trainer and funder of state-sponsored terrorism — a terrorist organization.

In trying to defend that vote yesterday, he said he had done so (along with newly minted Secretary of State John Kerry) because it was an assault on an “elected, legitimate” government — by which he meant Iran’s theocracy. And because, he said, voting for the resolution would have given the Bush administration a green light to go to war with Iran.

Well, that ludicrous notion is in the past. What’s in the present is that the stated policy of the Obama administration toward the Iranian nuke is “prevention” — that it will not allow Iran to get the bomb, period, and will do what is necessary to ensure it doesn’t happen.

So Hagel corrected himself, kind of: “I was just handed a note that I misspoke — that I said I supported the president’s position on containment. If I said that, I meant to say that we don’t have a position on containment.” Whatever that means.

Later he said he was sorry he’d called the Iranian government elected and legitimate; rather, he should have said it was recognized.

“I don’t understand Iranian politics,” Hagel said — which would be understandable if, say, Khloe Kardashian were testifying. But Hagel is going to be a key official determining US policy toward Iran, and one would hope he’d bring a bit of pre-existing knowledge to the table.

He was also sorry to have said Israel keeps the Palestinians “caged in like wild animals.” Oh, and he didn’t mean to have drawn a moral equivalence between Israel and Hezbollah by referring to “the sickening slaughter on both sides” during a war inaugurated entirely by Hezbollah’s rockets.

As for American policy, he and his ex-friend Sen. John McCain got into quite a tussle over the surge in Iraq, which Hagel described before it began as “the worst foreign-policy disaster since Vietnam.”

This is something about which he was obviously mistaken — even if you think the war itself was a foreign-policy disaster, the surge certainly made it far less of one — and yet he could neither find the words to defend his 2007 view nor the words to say things had worked out differently from how he had expected them to go.

“There are a lot of things I don’t know about,” Hagel said, when it came to America’s defenses. “If confirmed, I intend to know a lot more than I do.”

But why should he bother? After all, he said in perhaps the most head-shaking comment of the day, “It doesn’t matter what I think.”

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) begged to differ: “It matters what you think,” she found herself saying in response.

Or maybe this was the most head-shaking comment: Defense secretary is “not a policymaking position,” and because he has to work in consultation with others and in service to the president, he won’t be “running anything.”

Those are just the high(low)lights.]

20 Responses to “Shorter liberal/left commentary on the Hagel hearings:”

  1. Gary Rosen Says:

    I am not happy with Hagel’s views on Jews and Israel. However the bigger problem by far is that he is woefully incompetent for this critical position and will do nothing except be a handmaiden for Obama’s policies.

  2. betsybounds Says:

    ” “Little misstatement” is almost as good as “misspoke,” another favorite of mine. The word should refer to slips of the tongue. But instead it’s often used to characterize serious mistakes, including mistakes of judgment.”

    It’s also often used to characterize outright lies.

  3. holmes Says:

    It works out for the best if he’s nominated. The Republicans exposed him for what he is, and Obama and the Dems will still nominate him. People can tolerate a boob running the EPA or Department of Education, or really even Department of Energy (Whachu tryin’ to say?), but not Defense. Rumsfeld was portrayed as an evil Jew (is there any other kind of nonliberal Jew in the Left’s eyes?), but never an incompetent. It will demonstrate that Obama really doesn’t care about America’s interests all that much. He cares about getting his way and executing his will.

  4. Eric Says:

    Thanks, Neo. This is not a surprise, but it is still angering.

    It comes as yet one more reminder that President Bush was a principled man simply doing his job as America’s leader and leader of the free world – following liberal principles no less – while his detractors acted instead to advance parochial partisan interests at the nation’s expense. And they succeeded.

  5. neo-neocon Says:

    holmes: I’ve seen a lot of things about Rumsfeld, but never that he was Jewish. But apparently you are correct that it was bandied about as an epithet (hey, FDR was called a Jew, too).

    To me, the idea that Rumsfeld might be Jewish is preposterous, he seems so un-Jewish.

    But hey, “Jew” is an all-purpose insult. I guess, to his enemies, he’s an honorary Jew, a secret Jew.

  6. neo-neocon Says:

    holmes: oh, and I wish I could be as optimistic as you about what will happen. However incompetent Hagel is, it will be ignored, unless it’s something so egregious it’s almost literally beyond my imagination.

    Look at how incompetent Obama has been, in foreign policy, and with the economy. Doesn’t matter.

    And Hillary is being praised as fabulous, and she was certainly egregiously incompetent re Benghazi, and even in her testimony about it (“what difference does it make?”).

    Indeed, what difference does it make?

    Sorry to be so cynical, but that’s the way it looks to me.

  7. NeoConScum Says:

    Aaahhhhhhhh…I’m with you, N-Neocon. Let’s see now…The utterly incompetent, perpetually traveling Hillary is THE Most F’ing Admired Babe on the F’ing Planet!? Not enough? The Infant Majesty declares at his 2nd Immaculation that, “a decade of war is at an end,” whilst the globe burns, sears and mass murders…CAN you say(cough)”ARAB Spring”?? Can you say “Congo”? Can you say “Iran”? Can you say “Sudan”? The economy is at a Stand-Still…Billy the Rapist Clinton is FATHER of the YEAR…Oh, and The Boy King asks our “Trust” on our GUNS..!

    Only a few on the horrific inventory, but gotta go.

  8. NeoConScum Says:

    (Con’t)…OOppsie…Forgot to conclude by tying the useless, lefturd Hagel to the overall Catastrophe Theme.

  9. Tom the Redhunter Says:

    ” They had no strong argument against Hagel, just a thousand cuts of little misstatements from his past.

    Hagel wasn’t as crisp or clever or self-assured as I expected. He may not have realized how tough it is to be on the receiving end of TV-conscious Senators.”

    In other words, “I admit he’s an idiot but he should be confirmed anyway. This is what his defenders have resorted to.

    Sadly, Neo is probably right in that he’ll most likely be confirmed. Sigh.

  10. Gringo Says:

    Misstatement : how to describe what a member of a Democratic Party Administration says.

    Indication of terminal stupidity/bigotry: how to describe what a member of a Republican Party Administration says.

  11. Gary Rosen Says:

    Rumsfeld a Jew?!?!? That is a classic example of the stupidest, most ignorant form of antisemitism – anyone with a vaguely Germanic sounding name must be Jewish. Note the irony though it is of course true that a large proportion of Jews have Germanic surnames including myself and neo. In fact, neo, my grandmother’s maiden surname was the same as yours but I’m sure we’re not related. In any case gentile Americans of German descent vastly outnumber American Jews. I have heard that Jesse Jackson “accused” Nixon aides Haldeman and Ehrlichmann of being Jewish.

  12. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Jewish friend of mine said the czar–or somebody–forced Jews to take so-called German names. Why the Czar is in this story I don’t know.
    The point of the story was that the names were German but not, so to speak, German names. IOW, no German was named “nut tree”, aka “Nussbaum”.

    I sometimes think things will get so bad that my lib acquaintances will see them. But, no matter how bad they get, the lesson will be lost by the astounding skill the libs have for blaming the irrelevant. Bush. Republicans. Greed.
    I shame myself by hoping, for example, that a friend will lose her health coverage so I can say, But you had that in your calculation when you voted, right? But, of course, she did not. Being highly educated, she is adamantly immune to information.

  13. Eric Says:


    I expanded on my earlier comment with a post on my blog. Excerpt:

    I’ve been avoiding politics, too upsetting, but some things get in. Neo-neocon’s post on the Senator Hagel, Secretary of Defense nomination hearings makes my patriotic liberal idealist heart clench in anger.

    It’s not a surprise anymore, but it’s still frustrating. Hagel’s naked admissions are just one more reminder that President Bush reacted to 9/11 as a principled leader simply trying to do his duty as America’s Commander-in-Chief and leader of the free world – following liberal principles no less. He gave his countrymen the opportunity to reaffirm that we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our Fortunes, & our sacred Honor in order to battle the regressive challenge to our hegemony and make the world a better place. Instead, Bush’s detractors seized the opportunity to grab power and advance their own agenda of parochial partisan self-interests at the expense of the nation and a progressive world order. They succeeded and, rather than object, the Cathedral was complicit, and the majority of the West accepted the betrayal as the new political normal. We fractured and shrank where we should have united and grown.

  14. Ray Says:

    Hagel came across as incompetent, ie, ignorant, uninformed and unprepared for the hearing. Of courst, that was all the evil Republicans fault. They actually had the audacity to ask him questions.

  15. neo-neocon Says:

    Ray: touché.

  16. Gary Rosen Says:

    I think a lot of the Germanic names were bestowed at Ellis Island. I’m not 100% sure where “Rosen” came from but my understanding is that my grandfather had a more Slavic-sounding name (Rizikov??) and it was changed when he arrived in America.

  17. ziontruth Says:

    The most authentic American Jewish name is Sean Ferguson.

    A Jewish immigrant from Eastern Europe was told by his friends he’d have an easier time if he took on an American name. He asked for a suggestion, so they said, “Take John Smith. The immigration authorities ask for your name, tell them you’re John Smith.” He happily agreed.

    That was not to be, however. Upon standing in line before the authorities, he had a blackout. “Your name, please?” He just couldn’t remember. Slapping his forehead, he said, “Ach! Ich hob shoin fargessen!” (“Oh! I’ve already forgotten!”). So it was he began his new life in America under the name Sean Ferguson.


    Seriously, in Israel today the majority of names are Arabic-sounding. The anti-Zionists, of course, driven by the agenda of mendaciously portraying Jewish nationalism as a branch of European colonialism, ignore those names and focus on the European-sounding ones, now the minority. One reason (among so many) why I think all anti-Zionists deserve to have their necks wrapped in an extra-strong scarf, of the type legally administered by a High Court.

  18. holmes Says:


    This will cheer everyone up!

  19. thomass Says:

    I love how the pravda crowd in the media passed him off as a bipartisan choice…

  20. Holmes Says:


    The important thing isn’t that he’s an incompetent, anti-semitic political lapdog, the important thing is how he handled a female staffer’s complaint that someone used sexually loaded language towards her.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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