by Cal Thomas
Biography isn't policy. President Obama's choice for secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, former Nebraska Republican senator, has a resume most politicians can envy: a clean senatorial record, no ethical lapses and two purple hearts from a war many opposed and many more tried to avoid.
Some think Hagel's 2006 comment about "the Jewish lobby" should disqualify him, believing it a code word for anti-Semitic sentiments. There is nothing wrong with criticizing the policies of any Israeli government. Israelis likely do this more than foreigners. It's just that Jews are rightly sensitive to the use of words like these because it may mean the person using them wishes to put the nation and policies of Israel on an equal footing with Israel's enemies who have vowed to destroy it.
Recall the remark former Secretary of State James Baker reportedly made in a private conversation with colleagues and you see what I mean. "F--- the Jews," Baker supposedly said, "they don't vote for us anyway." Baker was no friend of Israel, frequently siding with Palestinian positions.
Hagel will likely be confirmed, but that should not mean Republican senators must roll over and relinquish their constitutional power of "advice and consent."
Of even greater concern than Hagel's apparent attitude toward the only functioning democracy in the Middle East, is what he thinks about American defense in an increasingly tumultuous world. Yes, the defense budget is "bloated," as Hagel has said, but does that mean the best solution is to dismember it?
In an interview with the
Maybe not, but outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, when it appeared that the just averted "fiscal cliff" might bring
In remarks to the
In 2007, Hagel voted against an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill that labeled the
Also in 2007, Hagel said, "The Palestinian people have been chained down for many, many years." Whose fault is that? If he suggests Israel is to blame for their situation, he either misunderstands history or accepts the propaganda of the "Islamist lobby."
In his 2008 book, "America: Our
According to the
There's one more.
In 1999, Hagel was the only U.S. senator not to sign a letter condemning anti-Semitism in Russia.
Republican and even some Democratic senators should question Hagel about all this and more during confirmation hearings. It's their job and responsibility.
Cal Thomas is a conservative American syndicated columnist and author syndicated in over 550 newspapers and is heard on over 300 radio stations
Chuck Hagel and Defense | Politics