If President Obama decides to nominate Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary, here’s an idea of what it will take to defeat him.
Defeating a Hagel nomination, however, will be more difficult than mounting a vocal opposition, in large part due to the Senate’s tradition of collegiality. Tradition indicates the Senate would extend a former senator — one whose Senate colleagues would be directly involved in his confirmation — considerable latitude. Sources say that, in order for the opposition to have a real chance at defeating a possible Hagel nomination, a sitting senator — around whom others can rally — must be willing to mount a battle against him. A founder of the non-partisan national security organization Secure America Now, Allen Roth tells National Review Online, “If nobody takes the lead in the Senate,” it’s unlikely the Hagel foes will be able to get much traction. “We’re at the early stages of this,” says Brooks. “My sense is obviously that there will be somebody that emerges. I just haven’t heard of anybody yet.”
Who will take the lead? Jim DeMint is gone. Joe Lieberman will be gone. John McCain? Don’t make me laugh. I’d bet on two Senators, from opposite sides of the aisle: Marco Rubio (because he’s impeccably honest and pro-Israel and won’t just hold his nose and vote in favor) and Chuck Schumer (because New York voters will destroy him in 2016 – when he’s up for reelection – if he doesn’t take action to stop Hagel).
And it’s not just about Israel. It’s also about Iran:
The concerns over a Hagel nomination extend beyond the former senator’s views on Israel. A senior congressional aide tells me that it is the former senator’s views on Iran that may ultimately prove to be the major roadblock to his confirmation. “That’s the biggest question that will be asked,” he says. The RJC’s Brooks echoed this, noting, “The next secretary of defense is going to have to deal with [Iran’s drive for a nuclear weapon] on Day One.” Hagel’s views on the matter, says Brooks, “put him at odds ostensibly with the administration position, with the Senate, with the Congress, and with the American people.”
In the Senate, Hagel consistently voted against imposing sanctions on Iran and has for years advocated unconditional negotiations with the regime. “Isolating nations is risky,” he has said. “It turns them inward, and makes their citizens susceptible to the most demagogic fear mongering.” He has also suggested that he may not be opposed to Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon. “The genie of nuclear armaments is already out of the bottle, no matter what Iran does,” he wrote in his book. “In this imperfect world, sovereign nation-states possessing nuclear weapons capability . . . will often respond with some degree of responsible, or at least sane, behavior.” Hagel “comes from a growing school of thought — I guess Ron Paul is one of the godfathers of this,” observes Roth, “that if we have enough free trade and talk to our enemies enough, they’ll leave us alone.”
Could we see another Kirk-Menendez tag team?