Former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel is the wrong man at the wrong time to lead the Defense Department. With any luck, a coalition of common-sense Republicans and Democrats will come together to block this potentially disastrous appointment.
Mr. Hagel’s views on Israel and Iran—two rather important issues at the moment—are extremely troubling, although apparently President Obama finds them acceptable. What’s more, the former senator is positively retrograde in his opinion of gay people. It’s hard to know precisely what Mr. Obama sees in him. Unless, of course, the president shares Mr. Hagel’s skepticism of the threat Iran poses to Israel and the West. Or perhaps the president also regards Israel as a geopolitical burden rather than a trusted ally.
Given Mr. Hagel’s record, it’s not surprising that he has attracted critics from across the ideological and partisan spectrum. Former Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank, a Democrat, noted that Mr. Hagel voted against the interests of gay, bisexual and transgender people throughout his tenure in the Senate. Mr. Hagel also assailed the nomination of James Hormel to be U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg in 1998, complaining that the nominee was “openly and aggressively” gay—whatever that means.
Former Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, an independent Democrat, noted that Mr. Hagel has consistently opposed economic sanctions against Iran and its virulently anti-Semitic, anti-American regime. And South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, said that Mr. Hagel would be the most “antagonistic secretary of defense towards the state of Israel in our nation’s history.”