There has been a lot of political coverage this morning about the gathering opposition to President Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. But what there hasn't been a lot of is people saying on the record that they oppose his nomination. Here's a breakdown of the people who won't support him, and those who so far are only willing to say they have concerns.
Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol. After reports that Obama was considering Hagel as defense secretary came out in December, Kristol's political action committee, Emergency Committee for Israel, aired ads on cable news saying, "President Obama: For Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel is not a 'responsible option.'" Why: Initally because of Hagel's positions relating to Iran -- Kristol's group's ads said Hagel opposed sanctions on Iran, labeling Iran's Revolutionary Guards a terror group, and a military strike on the country. But on Fox News Sunday, Kristol laid out other complaints. "Is there any Hagel legislation?" Kristol asked. "Has he written anything memorable? — said anything memorable?... Has he run anything big like the Pentagon?"
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. “Chuck Hagel is not the right choice for Secretary of Defense and if he is nominated, it is difficult to imagine any way I could support his confirmation,” Cruz told the conservative site Washington Free Beacon. Why: Cruz's reasoning is the opposite of Kristol's. I think. While Kristol's group condemned Hagel for opposing a military strike on Iran, Cruz says Hagel would make war with Iran more likely, because he's too nice to Iran. Hagel "has repeatedly been soft on our enemies," Cruz said. "Bullies do not respond to weakness, and Hagel’s stance on Iran—the most serious national security challenge America currently faces—makes conflict more likely, not less likely." Another thing that might have something to do with Cruz's opposition is that he's a freshman Senator, and is perhaps unfamiliar with the art of the Sunday show hedge, which his colleagues performed over the weekend. Still, even Cruz hedged a teeny bit: "It is very difficult to imagine a circumstance in which I could could support him," Cruz said on Fox News Sunday.
Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. "I will not support Chuck Hagel’s nomination," Cornyn, the senior Senator from Texas, said in a statement released this weekend. Why: "His opposition to Iranian sanctions and support for direct, unconditional talks with its leaders is both at odds with current U.S. policy and a threat to global security. To make matters worse, he has called for direct negotiations with Hamas. The worst possible message we could send to our friend Israel and the rest of our allies in the Middle East is Chuck Hagel."
Log Cabin Republicans, who took out a full-page ad in The Washington Post Monday. Why: The comment related to gay rights that's gotten the most attention was something Hagel said in 1998: that an appointed ambassador to Luxembourg was "openly, aggressively gay." Hagel has apologized for the comment, but the Log Cabin Republicans say, "Hagel's Apology: Too Little, Too Late."
Concerned but Not Yet Opposed
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. "This is an in your face nomination by the president to all of us who are supportive of Israel," Graham said on CNN Sunday. Graham questioned Hagel's support of negotiations with Hamas, and said, "I don't know what his management experience is regarding the Pentagon -- little, if any, so I think it's an incredibly controversial choice."
"Top Senate Democrats." ABC News reports Democrats say "there is no guarantee Hagel will win confirmation and that, as of right now, there are enough Democratic Senators with serious concerns about Hagel to put him below 50 votes." Democrats are reportedly mad Obama looks willing to fight for Hagel -- a Republican -- even though he wouldn't for Susan Rice, a Democrat.
The Anti-Defamation League's Abe Foxman. Hagel "expressed himself in an interview about the power of the ‘Jewish lobby,’ declaring himself to be an American senator, not an Israeli senator," Foxman told Politico in December. "At the very least it’s of concern to the American Jewish community, at the very most, it’s very troubling." (Hagel said in 2006: "The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here... I have always argued against some of the dumb things they do because I don’t think it’s in the interest of Israel.")
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "I think he'll be subjected to the same kind of oversight hearings that any nominee for such an important position would expect," McConnell said on Meet the Press. "And his views with regard to Israel, for example, and Iran and all the other positions that he's taken over the years will be very much a matter of discussion in the confirmation process."