Are Republicans petulant children or just insane or both? After whining and grousing over Susan Rice, they're now going after as-yet-unnamed-for-any-cabinet-post former Senator Chuck Hagel, for not being properly deferential to Israel.
Via ABCNews and AP, ex-shadow President McGrumpy and the Gang are grumbling already:
But opposition was growing among Senate Republicans who held their weekly, closed-door meeting on Wednesday. Lawmakers harbor real doubts about whether Hagel is sufficiently supportive of Israel, the U.S.'s closest Mideast ally, based on his remarks.
"When he served here, he was willing to step on a lot of toes and I think some of those toes that he pinched are screaming right now," said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. "But we'll see how it goes along. It depends a lot on how much his Republican colleagues are going to cause problems for him."
At the moment, Hagel remains the primary candidate for defense secretary and is being screened for the position, but his selection is not a done deal. He would succeed Leon Panetta, who has made it clear without announcing a date, that he intends to step down early next year.
Troubling for some lawmakers are Hagel's comments and actions on Israel, including his reference to the "Jewish lobby" in the United States.
"That comment is inappropriate," McCain said. "There's no such thing as a Jewish lobby. There's an Armenian lobby, there's not a Jewish lobby. There's an Israeli lobby. It's called AIPAC, very influential."
They're really more butthurt over the fact that Hagel criticized the escalation in Iraq and came to hate the Iraq war as much as any Democrat did. He also wasn't a fan of Bush and didn't hew the neocon line. Therefore, Republicans feel they have license to swiftboat him or at the very least, make him kowtow to their whims and fancies.
Bill Kristol is fanning himself madly and ramping up the neocon media blitz early. Via The Atlantic:
The low road is taken by the Standard's editor, Bill Kristol. He writes that Hagel is "anti-Israel," and then follows this assertion with a series of facts that don't corroborate it. Of course, as Kristol surely knows, "anti-Israel" is taken by some people as code for "anti-Semitic." As for those Weekly Standard readers who don't interpret the term that way--well, that's what the lower road is for. A separate story written by a Standard staffer quotes a top Republican Senate aide saying flat out that Hagel is anti-Semitic.
If you're wondering who that aide is, I have bad news for you: The Standard doesn't tell us, so we have no way of being sure that this person even exists. To students of American history, this tactic--conveying vicious accusations while cloaking their source--may sound familiar, because it's the way Joseph McCarthy used to operate. What it's not is the way a magazine with integrity operates. But I guess it shouldn't surprise us, given some of the Weekly Standard's previous behavior.
Meanwhile, Kristol's ideological kin are getting into the spirit of things. The Washington Post's neocon blogger, Jennifer Rubin, quotes Abe Foxman saying Hagel's views "border on anti-Semitism."
Meanwhile, the genuinely awful Jennifer Rubin spewed this all over the pages of the Washington Post. While I'm certain Frank Gaffney is beside himself with joy, her garbage doesn't deserve to line the cat box, much less show up in a national publication.
This isn't to say that Hagel is without defenders. VoteVets sent an email blast out Wednesday calling on its members to stand for Hagel, and many in the blogosphere have mounted a vigorous defense. Dana Milbank, who runs hot and cold on things usually hits the right note here:
The Hagel hit is wrong on the merits, but it’s particularly egregious because the former senator from Nebraska is among the best and bravest public servants. He was an enlisted man in Vietnam, earning two Purple Hearts in jungle combat. In his legislative career, he was a powerful voice against the chicken hawks who have recklessly sent American troops to their deaths; he became one of the most outspoken critics of George W. Bush’s handling of the Iraq war.
Hagel would probably be swiftly confirmed by the Senate, and he should be: A man of unassailable military credentials who regards war as a last resort is exactly the sort of person to head the Pentagon.
If you cut through all of the BS what you get is a lot of ticked-off neocons who aren't really happy that a guy who happens to call himself a Republican isn't head-over-heels in love with Israel and isn't inclined to sacrifice global national security in order for Mr. Netanyahu to sleep soundly at night.
Tough. We won this election and I'm sick and tired of them behaving as though they have the right to choose the President's cabinet and policies. I'm sick and tired of them pretending they're the President, and I'm sick and tired of the way they treat this President. Whether one agrees or disagrees with everything he's done, no one can dispute that the level of objection to every single thing he does is personal and petulant.
It's time for Republicans to have a time-out in the corner. Past time, even.