Nomination of Republican Hagel Gives Rightbloggers a Chance to Reach Out Ha Ha No Not Really
Obama has nominated Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. Hagel is a former Republican Senator, so you would expect Republicans to appreciate the gesture. Or you would if you lived in the earlier, simpler time before rightbloggers. In our current era, alas, nothing proposed by the Kenyan Pretender can be less than treasonous -- in this case treasonous to Israel, which was admitted to the Union about the time Norman Podhoretz endorsed Pat Robertson.
Only one SecDef candidate has been rejected in the past by the Senate: John Tower, also a former Republican Senator but seeking to serve a Republican Administration. Tower was rejected for drinking and fooling around, or for ties to defense contractors, depending on whom you believe.
Hagel, however, is accused of what in a different context would be called political incorrectness. Though like any American politician who wants to get anywhere he has repeatedly celebrated U.S.-Israel relations, he has also shown some interest in the plight of Palestinians, and referred to a "Jewish lobby," meaning advocates of Israeli interests in Washington, a town where chiropodists probably have a lobby and other religious groups certainly do, at least de facto.
No one believes that a longtime establishment figure like Hagel is going to throw Israel to the wolves, in contradiction of more than 60 years of U.S. policy. But with Obama getting slightly fewer Jewish votes in 2012 than in 2008, rightbloggers sense an opportunity. So the game is to try and make it look as if Hagel likes to spend long weekends playing concentration camp in his swastika-lined den, and thus embarrass his nominator.
"Chuck Hagel, anti-Semite?" asks Danielle Pletka at the American Enterprise Institute. Pletka lets us know that Hagel has supporters and detractors on this score, and "these accusations and defenses have come from serious people." We took this at first for a joke, but in the course of the article lost faith that Pletka knows what a joke is. The first very serious charge: Hagel's "reported reference to 'the Jews,' and the clear fact that despite ample evidence to the contrary, he believes there is a monolithic creature that is 'the Jews,'" just as one might refer to "the Swiss" and "the Russians," presumably with equal viciousness. Also, Hagel has referred to a "Jewish lobby" when actually, Mr. Smarty-Pants Anti-Semite, "the pro-Israel lobby is made up of both Christians and Jews."
Perhaps sensing that she is losing the crowd, Pletka moves on to more serious charges, e.g., "Hagel's conviction that were it not for 'the Jews,' US relations with the Middle East would be copacetic." This is not a Hagel quote, and Pletka does not supply a citation, for reasons you can guess.
Pletka closes, "there is a pall that hangs over the man when it comes to questions about both Jews and Israel... Let's just say that there are reasonable questions that may be asked about Hagel's views of both the Jews and the US-Israel relationship..." Then she taps the side of her nose and does the Monty Python bit where Eric Idle wants to know if Terry Jones' wife is a goer.
Pletka also addresses the claims of Hagel's defenders. First, "denying the charge is actually easier than leveling it," she says, so the defenders should give up two points or a saving throw. Then she treats specific examples, e.g., "On the notion that Chuck Hagel is not an anti-Semite because he simply has the courage to stand up to the Likud, Zionist, Jewish lobby, etc... this is rank garbage. Yes, it's commonly strewn about Washington, but that doesn't make it attar of roses... It does not take courage to do these things; just some rich patrons and a loud voice - viz. the ultra-left J Street." (That last is a group of Jews -- if we may be so anti-Semitic as to call them that -- and non-Jews who are dovish, so presumably Hagel can like them and still be an anti-Semite.)
Other assertions of Hagel's anti-Semitism were no better. A.J. Rosenberg wrote a Hagel endorsement called "Obama defeats the Israel Lobby." This appeared in Al-Jazeera, which has become the rightbloggers' hook for the story -- partly, we guess, because the Qatari news org had abstained from the general enthusiasm for the Iraq War in its early days and rightbloggers are still sore about that, and partly because Al Gore just sold Current TV to them and everything Al Gore does is also treason.
"Al Jazeera Cheers Hagel's Nomination," Weasel Zippers thundered. "Who they chose to write the article speaks volumes about Al Jazeera, they went with anti-Semitic Jew MJ Rosenberg, whose hatred for Israel is so intense far-left Media Matters was forced to fire him for making anti-Semitic remarks."
Rosenberg's "anti-Semitic remarks" seem to consist of Rosenberg calling certain U.S. Israel hawks "Israel-firsters." Very insulting, certainly (only conservatives are allowed to question someone's patriotism -- look it up, it's in the Constitution), but not in itself proof that Rosenberg's a Jew-hating Jew (but then, can we prove he isn't? Aha!).
"AL JAZEERA CELEBRATES HAGEL NOMINATION" hollered Breitbart.com's William Bigelow. "How bad is Chuck Hagel for the state of Israel? Al Jazeera is rejoicing in his nomination for Secretary of Defense." Bigelow also told us Rosenberg was an "anti-Semitic Jew" responsible for "anti-Semitic vitriol such as calling those Americans who support a strong Israel 'Israel Firsters'" -- "such as," in this case, meaning "the only extremely weak example being."
"Al-Jazeera loves Hagel," gurgled Jack Shaw. "And well they should; he is one more knife in Israel's back, brought to you by that lover of the Jewish state, Barack Obama." We think that last bit was sarcasm.
Speaking in 2009 on Al Jazeera -- AHA! -- Hagel said regarding a global nuclear weapons drawdown, "Let's begin with the two nuclear powers that now are responsible for ninety-six percent of the nuclear weapons in the world. Russia and the United States have a particular obligation. We must join in some unison here to lead the rest of the world."
OK, try and guess what rightbloggers made of this. Give up? "Hagel: U.S. should give up nukes before rogue nations," wrote Aaron Klein of World Net Daily. The "rogue nations" in this case are Iran and North Korea, one of which has no nuclear weapons, and the other of which has a bomb but so no other vestiges of civilization. (For other reasons why Russia and America might be the most appropriate starting teams for nuclear disarmament, see War, Cold.)
Other geniuses picked this up, including the spectacularly failed Tea Party Senate candidate Joe Miller. "Chuck Hagel is a member of the board of the Global Zero group, which advocates deep unilateral cuts in America's nuclear deterrent and ridding the world (or more precisely, the Western world) of nuclear weapons," writes Zbigniew Mazurak of Conservative Daily News. "(But they don't mind Russia's and China's huge nuclear arsenals, or North Korea's and Iran's nuclear programs. They only have a problem with American, British, French, and Israeli nuclear weapons.)" Psst, Zbig, ixnay and on the itish-Bray etcetera-ay -- we're saving that for the damning eve-of-vote revelation.
Also on Al Jazeera -- DOUBLE AHA! -- where an emailer asked, "Can the rest of the world be persuaded to give up their arsenal when the image of the U.S. is that of the world's bully? Don't we indeed need to change the perception and the reality before asking folks to lay down their arms (nuclear or otherwise)?" Hagel replied, "Well, her observation is a good one and it's relevant. Yes, to her question, and again I think that's all part of leadership..."
Oh, we see several of you got it already: "Hagel Agrees that America is 'the World's Bully,'" says the Washington Free Beacon, and several rightbloggers picked it up. "In an interview on Al Jazeera, Hagel agreed that the U.S. is 'the world's bully,'" repeated Jack Hoogendyk of the Citizens' Alliance for Life & Liberty. "HAGEL TO AL JAZEERA: AMERICA 'WORLD'S BULLY,'" mangled Breitbart.com. "Unworthy of his appointment," huffed Bluegrass Pundit.
The Weekly Standard's Daniel Halper took what we might call in this context the moderate position: "Does Hagel Believe America is 'the World's Bully'?" asked his headline, though his answer is what you'd expect ("This clip from an appearance on Al Jazeera seems to suggest...").
Supporting evidence began to pile up: Hagel served as co-chair of the Atlantic Council, a
Nazi cabal think tank and public policy group where the other co-chair, Chas Freeman, said some far-out stuff about Israeli "fifth columnists." As Hagel and Freeman are psychic twins like in The Fury;nbsp& ;nbsp& a ventriloquist act on the same board, Hagel is responsible. "Hagel evidently hasn't persuaded Freeman to mend his ways," says William Kristol at The Weekly Standard; also, "so far as we know Chuck Hagel had no problem with what Chas Freeman said in December 2012." And all that stuff Hitler said about the Jews -- Hagel's nowhere to be seen on that one, either.
Rightbloggers with time on their hands have brought up others complaints, showing the breadth of Hagel's lack of fitness. "It may not just be former Senator Chuck Hagel's policy stances that sink him, but also his personality flaws," writes Alana Goodman at Commentary, riffing off a gossipy Politico story. While "nominated senators are usually easy confirmations thanks to the Senate's clubby atmosphere... Hagel isn't known for playing well with others..." Goodman adds schmutz about "Hagel's reputation as a difficult boss who often castigated his staffers in public" and his "mercurial temperament."
Some have attacked Hagel for turning against the Iraq War, like millions of treasonous Americans before and since. "Nobody - explicitly including the voting public - really sees anybody who was antiwar as being a REAL Republican," says Moe Lane. When the truth comes out, America will demand Secretary of Defense Hagel convert to Democrat.
Hagel's experience as a soldier in Vietnam (he was on our side) has been largely ignored, except by swift-boating crackpots and Jay Nordlinger of National Review, who counts it a minus. "You can see the appeal of Hagel to Obama, and not just when it comes to the Middle East," says Nordlinger. "Who better to preside over the gutting of American defenses than a Republican war hero?"
Big-time conservatives did the same schtick, but more daintily. For example, after referring to Hagel's "alleged hostility" toward Israel, Charles Krauthammer at National Review warns that "Iran's official media have already cheered the choice of what they call this 'anti-Israel' nominee." Maybe Hagel is Hitler, maybe he isn't, but the point is America's enemies might think he's Hitler, despite Charles Krauthammer's best efforts, and that would be bad for America and Israel. That's how the pros do it, folks.
Our favorite bit in this whole adventure was when someone remembered that Hagel made cracks about Ambassador to Luxembourg James Hormel being "aggressively gay." It was funny that, after gay leaders got after him about it, Hagel had to eat shit, but it was hilarious that for a couple of days rightbloggers pretended to care about gay people.
"CHUCK HAGEL'S ANTI-GAY STANCE DESERVES SCRUTINY" said Shmuley Boteach (apparently "America's Rabbi" and author of the "acclaimed new bestseller, Kosher Jesus") at Breitbart.com. At National Review, Nathaniel Botwinick thought it hypocritical of the Obama Administration to drop Rev. Louie Giglio, who wants gay folks to turn hetero, from the Inauguration yet keep the homophobe Hitler Hagel. "So, the takeaway message from the administration is it's alright to attack homosexuals if you're going to lead the Pentagon," wrote Botwinick, "but not okay if you're going to speak for five minutes at the inauguration."
"Gay Rights Groups Complicate Left's Narrative of Hagel As Victim," announced Seth Mandel at Commentary. "Will the left now complain about some 'gay lobby' silencing the administration and directing policy from the shadows?"
They didn't. As the situation was, you should pardon the expression, straightened out, a disappointed John Rosenberg of PJ Media ranked on Hagel and gay people. In accepting Hagel's apology, Rosenberg said, "Hormel himself obviously also now sees the possibilities of forcing Hagel to hew to the gay activist agenda... I have long thought, as I argued three years ago and have seen no reason to change my mind, that the reversal of liberals on the meaning of equality has fueled the opposition to gay rights proposals. If voters had not witnessed liberals abandon -- indeed, reverse -- their dedication to colorblind, 'without regard' racial equality, I suspect they would be much more willing to prohibit discrimination based on sexual preference." Rosenberg doesn't get out much, we guess.
And so it goes. When it's all over, we may or may not have a new SecDef, but rightbloggers will have made a further impression on the American People with their diligence and attention to detail. We're sure the thought pleases them. Us too!
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.
- Seventeen Millennials Arrested as Police Bust Elaborate Credit Card Scheme
- Video: Brooklyn Flag-Burning Protest Erupts in a Few Almost-Fights
- The NYPD Has Installed Cameras Across the City So You Won't Be Tempted to Set Off...