McCain Grills Hagel Over His Criticism Of Troop Surge In Iraq


McCain was in full grumpy old man mode during the confirmation hearing for his former friend and colleague Chuck Hagel this Thursday -- and he really was not happy when he didn't get an answer that suited him on Hagel's criticism of the troop surge in Iraq back in 2007, which he called the "most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam."

"Were you right?" McCain said. "Were you correct in your assessment?"

"Well, I would defer to the judgment of history to sort that out," Hagel said.

"This committee deserves your judgment as to whether you were right or wrong about the surge," McCain pressed.

"I'll explain why I made those comments," Hagel said.

"I want to know if you were right or wrong," McCain interjected. "That's a direct question. I expect a direct answer."

"The surge assisted in the objective, but if we review the record a little bit," Hagel said.

"Will you please answer the question," McCain said. "Were you correct or incorrect when you said that the surge would be the 'most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.' Were you correct or incorrect, yes or no?"

Hagel wasn't willing to give him the sound byte he was looking for and it just got more contentious from there: McCain: Hagel on ‘the wrong side’ of history on Iraq:

As Hagel offered to “explain” his remarks, McCain cut him off. “I want to know whether you were right or wrong. That’s a direct question, I expect a direct answer.”

“The surge assisted in the objective,” Hagel said. “But if we review the record a little bit…

“Will you please answer the question?” McCain jumped in. “Were you correct, or incorrect, when you said that the surge would be the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam? Were you correct or incorrect? Yes or no?”

“Were you right or wrong? That’s a pretty straightforward question,” McCain said.

“I’m not going to give you a yes or no answer,” Hagel said. “If you would like me to explain why…”

“No, I actually would like an answer, yes or no,” McCain cut him off.

“I’ll defer that judgment to history,” Hagel repeated. But he added that his Vietnam comments referred to “the overall war of choice, going into Iraq” and called the March 2003 invasion “the most fundamentally bad, dangerous decision since Vietnam.”

“I think history has already made a judgment about the surge, sir, and you’re on the wrong side of it,” McCain said. “And your refusal to answer whether you were right or wrong about it is going to have an impact on my judgment as to whether to vote for your confirmation or not.”

“I hope whether you will reconsider,” McCain said.

McCain's got a lot of nerve lecturing someone else about foreign policy blunders, but as we've come to expect from McCain and his fellow neocons, introspection isn't one of their strong points.

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