Chuck Hagel was an embarrassment yesterday at this confirmation hearing. John Podhoretz has it right:
Well, as a result of this confirmation hearing — the most disastrous of its kind since another veteran senator, John Tower, blew himself up in his pursuit of the same post back in 1989 — Hagel has probably lost many, many votes to confirm him as secretary of defense.
Though he was being asked about things he had said over the course of the past 15 years, it was what Hagel said yesterday — and how he said what he said — that had his defenders reeling in shock and even his critics aghast at how poorly he handled himself.
Hagel said many, many things yesterday — incoherent things, confused things, wrong things, untrue things, and things that seemed to contradict other things he had said previously. Some were about Israel, some about Iran, some about American policy.
One of the many things Hagel fumbled was his earlier comment about Israel’s “sickening slaughter” during the 1986 Lebanon War. As Podhoretz notes, at best Hagel was drawing a moral equivalence between Israel and Hezbollah:
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.
Ted Cruz hammered Hagel on the “sickening slaughter comment,” which Dave Weigel rushed to label a “bogus attack” because, as Podhoretz noted, Hagel accused both Israel and Hezbollah of “sickening slaughter”:
Hagel wasn’t accusing Israel of carrying out a slaughter, or war crimes. He described the conflict that way—a sickening slaughter was occuring—blaming both sides, and quickly following up by criticizing Iran and invoking the “special relationship.” Cruz’s truncation of the quote completely changed the meaning.
Cruz’s line of inquiry was not “bogus.” Israel went far out of its way to avoid civilian casualties and probably cost itself a military victory because of that, while Hezbollah fired rockets into civilian area for the purpose of hurting civilians. That’s not a “bogus” distinction, it’s the core of Hagel’s misaligned view of the Middle East.
The “bogus” defense of Hagel ignited by Weigel caught on like wildfire. Mission accomplished.
I’ll tell you what a truly “bogus attack” looks like — Weigel writing in a post last Friday about possible changes to how electoral votes are counted in a handful of states (emphasis added): “William Jacobson, last seen falsely accusing Elizabeth Warren of abusing her law license, makes the argument in its simplest form.”
To the contrary, see the Law License Controversy page at ElizabethWarrenWiki.org. That’s one of the reasons we have collected the research about Warren all in one place, so people have the resources to respond to bogus attacks.
Hagel should not be confirmed. His defenders know it, they’re just too deep in at this point, so they are attacking people who point out the obvious deficiencies in Hagel’s record and understanding of issues. That’s bogus.