Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chuck Hagel's 'Friends of Hamas'

Funny, isn't it? Well, not really. But at least the Republicans are eating themselves.

Here in Nebraska, I'm quite familiar with Chuck Hagel, since he used to be our senator. He's a conservative Republican, so I never voted for him, but I still respected him.

I disagree with Hagel about most things, but he's not insane. In fact, that's why he's no longer our senator. He wasn't insane enough for today's Republican Party, so he quit, rather than face a likely primary fight.

He doesn't deserve this mess. He doesn't deserve the lies being spread about him. But it's his own party. If you're sane, you don't belong in today's Republican Party. And if you stick around anyway, your own party will eventually make that very clear. (Colin Powell gets much the same treatment these days.)

As a Republican politician, Chuck Hagel supported this kind of stuff. Oh, I'm not claiming that he took part in it himself, but at the very least, he knew that it was happening. It is, after all, the very heart of Fox 'News.' So he actually benefited from it, when it was directed - as it usually is - at Democrats.

Well, that's how the Republican Party operates, and has operated for years now. And Hagel is still a Republican. So, at some level, I'm enjoying this, even though Hagel doesn't really deserve it.

As Cenk Uygur points out (from this column at Slate), it started with a right-wing blog post where, as usual, the author just pulled a wild claim out of his ass. Then, the rest of the right-wing blogosphere repeated it, and soon it was everywhere in the right-wing bubble.

After all, where there's smoke, there's fire, right? Of course, they're all smoking the same stuff! That reality-free bubble they all inhabit is so full of smoke they can't see anything else, but it's all coming from within the bubble itself.

And if that's not enough, here's the sequel:
A conservative blog today claimed that Hagel suggested in the speech that Israel controlled the State Department. The former Republican senator has come under fire from Republicans for being critical of Israeli policy in the past and referring to the “Israel lobby,” so the State Department quote would be problematic, if true.

It turns out Hagel may have said no such thing, though he did talk of cooperation with Iran on Afghanistan, including the idea of reopening a consulate in the country, which may pose its own political problems.

But the increasingly unhinged campaign against Hagel has been so single-minded in its quest to dig up dirt on him that it has seized on anything that has even a whiff of pro-Palestianian, anti-Israel slant, no matter how dubious. For instance, the bogus claim that Hagel received donations from a nonexistent group called “Friends of Hamas” plays perfectly into the notion that he coddled the sometimes terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip. But it has the disadvantage of being untrue.

Applying the Republicans’ standard on Hagel to others — including themselves — complicates the situation.

Take Sen. Jim Inhofe, for instance. He’s the ranking Republican member on the Senate Armed Services Committee and has been one of the leading figures opposing Hagel’s nomination. Inhofe told Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogan that Hagel’s relatively soft stance on Hamas, among other things, meant that Inhofe could not support him.

But in 2006, after Hamas won the Palestinian elections, Inhofe did not seem concerned. Hamas has done “some good things, even as a terrorist group,” he told the Oklahoman. He compared the group to one of the country’s largest charities, saying Hamas is like “the Salvation Army with loaded guns.” [And we all know how Republicans love guns. I'm sure Inhofe thinks the Salvation Army should carry loaded guns.]

“I would prefer that they not have won, but I don’t think it’s the end of the world,” he added.

The quote may not be damning on its own, but if there were a concerted smear campaign against Inhofe’s stance on Israel, it would be about as bad as anything brought against Hagel. In other words, using his current standard, Jim Inhofe might have a hard time voting to confirm Jim Inhofe.

The problem with Hagel? The entire problem with Hagel? It's just the fact that President Obama has nominated him. That's it.

Republicans are so determined to oppose Barack Obama on everything, no matter what it is, that they'll gnaw off their own leg if that's what it takes. Well, we saw this with 'Obamacare,' too. As soon as the Democrats adopted the Republican position, it became 'socialism' to the GOP.

Personally, I hope that Obama keeps nominating Republicans for government positions. I'm really enjoying the feeding frenzy, even though Chuck Hagel doesn't actually deserve this kind of treatment.

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