Getting his final licks on his “friend” former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), 76-year-old Sen. John McCain told CNN’s John King that Hagel was not qualified for Secretary of Defense. Displaying one of the most egregious cases of sour grapes in U.S. history, McCain knows that Hagel is a qualified as any candidate for Defense Secretary in recent memory. He’s certainly more qualified than former President George W. Bush’s Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who insisted to the bitter end that the Iraq War was needed for U.S. national security. Ten years later, with 4,886 dead U.S. soldiers, the Treasury wasting over $1 trillion and the economy lapsing into the worst recession since the Great Depression, history’s on Hagel’s side. Hagel was the lone Republican voice opposing the Iraq War, mainly because he saw through Bush and “Rummy’s” warning about Saddam’s dangerous weapons.
McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) filibustered Hagel’s nomination hoping to extract more documents from the White House about Benghazi, where 52-year-old Amb. Chris Stevens and three other Americans died in a Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack. McCain and Graham hoped, like Woodward and Bernstein, to break a Watergate-like scandal over Benghazi that would bring down President Barack Obama before the Nov. 6, 2012 election. Their strategy failed. As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in her final act Jan. 23 before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Benghazi is a dangerous place. Yet McCain continues to lash out at Hagel for answers in his Jan. 31, 2012 confirmation hearing. Can you imagine Chuck said Iran has a duly elected government whether we like it or not? He dared to say Iran could be “contained” on any possible nuclear weapons.
McCain and Graham blamed Hagel for undermining current White House strategy of preventing Iran from getting the bomb. Unable to stop Iran uranium enrichment program, Obama stated emphatically in his State of the Union Speech that he would not allow Iran to build a nuclear device. Hagel never said in his hearing that he opposed Obama’s “prevent” strategy, only, like former U.S. Army Four-Star Gen. Eric K. Shinseki that Iran “could” be contained, if they somehow got the bomb. “I do not believe that Chuck Hagel, who is a friend of mine, is not qualified to be Secretary of Defense,” McCain told CNN’s “State of the Union” show. No matter how McCain twists Hagel’s answers, the two-time Purple Heart Vietnam War veteran wasn’t willing to commit to war with Iran. McCain and Graham seek a “prevent” strategy that includes possible preemptive war.
McCain admitted that the president will get his up-or-down senate vote on Hagel probably this week. White House officials believe they have more than enough votes in the Senate to confirm the 66-year-old current co-chair of Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board. Calling Hagel “unqualified” disqualifies McCain from calling Hagel his friend, when the six-time Arizona senator can’t be honest about exploiting Chuck’s confirmation for political purposes. McCain can’t get every answer on Benghazi because he only wants answers that support his Watergate-like theory. Holding up Hagel’s nomination shows McCain’s selfish streak, continuing to retaliate against Obama for losing the 2008 election. “I believe that when the questions are answered, and I believe they will be by this coming week that the president deserves and up or down vote on Hagel,” said McCain, a member of Senate Armed Services Committee.
Senate Democrats and Republicans must wait until McCain satisfies his need to haze the White House enough on Benghazi. He and Graham forced Obama’s first pick for Secretary of State, U.N. Amb. Susan Rice, to withdraw her name because she blamed the Benghazi attacks on rioting, not terrorism. McCain still wants to know who wrote Rice’s talking points when she appeared Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012 on several national TV news shows after the Benghazi attack. “I don’t want to put a hold on anybody, but the American people deserve answers about Benghazi. There are so many questions that are still out there, including what was the president doing the nigh Benghazi happened,” said McCain. McCain never asked what Bush was doing the night before Sept. 11. Yet Benghazi has become McCain’s cause célèbre for lashing out against Obama for losing the 2008 presidential election.
Before Hagel opposed the Iraq War, he was one of the most respected senators on U.S. national security and defense matters. Once he rubbed Bush and former VP Dick Cheney the wrong way, he was tossed quickly under the bus by his Republican “friends.” When McCain refers to Hagel as a “friend,” who’s he kidding? Since Hagel broke ranks on Iraq with his party, he’s been on the outs ever since. Yet if anyone listened to Chuck on Iraq, 4,886 U.S. soldiers would still be alive and the U.S. economy might have avoided the worst recession since the Great Depression. Serving as co-chair of Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Group and a distinguished professor in Georgetown University’s prestigious Edmund A. Walsh’s School of Foreign Service, McCain can’t possibly think Hagel’s not qualified for Defense Secretary. Grandstanding on Hagel serves no one other than McCain.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.