Former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) prepares for his confirmation to become Secretary of Defense. It is a time when partisanship, again, become an operative word in Washington DC. Liberal Senators worry about comments made in Congress regarding an "aggressively gay" nomination for an ambassador's position in 1998. He apologized, but in a time of judging appearances, it will receive some airing. Still, Defense is not engaged in diplomatic affairs, political appointments, or lifestyle choices. The meat of the discussion over Hagel's suitability comes from his party and former Senate partners.
Much has been made over his comments about a "Jewish lobby" in the United States, and the chances for an American or Israeli military strike against Iran. In today's political climate, it creates an odd contrast in political dynamics. If it was simply a Republican, making a comment about Jews, the media would pronounce him racist and ignorant, and move on to new business. Since he is a political nominee for President Obama, the media is making the usual, hair-splitting distinction that he likes Jewish people but disagrees with the Israeli government, in a sanitation process to ease his presentation. His relationship with Jewish friends and constituents is detailed in today's Omaha World-Herald. They are looking for all the Jewish support they can offer.
But, Hagel reflects the philosophy of President Obama, to keep Israel in a position of "equality" with other nations. They try to assure Palestinians do not see extreme prejudice on behalf of our Israeli allies. They also steadfastly maintain a policy of negotiation and diplomacy when it comes to Iran, their nuclear program, and their aggression toward Israel or other neighbors. They are willing to minimize the sponsorship of terror as long as it's kept within their own borders or through secondary agents like Hamas. The only tool in their arsenal is the use of "sanctions" to influence the government.
The biggest threat to President Obama's legacy and image as a Nobel Peace Prize winner is a new Middle East conflict, possibly involving a strike against the Iranians. Even one launched from within Israel challenges the myth he brought "stability and a new hope" to the region; something each of the past three Democratic Presidents has attempted to claim. This is why Hagel's confirmation is important to the Obama Administration.
He is owed the favor for his last-minute support for Bob Kerrey in the failed Senate race against Deb Fisher in 2012; but more importantly he doesn't believe in exceptional support for the Israeli cause of security. He is not in favor of a preemptive military strike against Iran. Hagel and Obama want Israel to wait until missiles are flying from Tehran to Jerusalem before they consider any military alternatives. It is a perfect fit for the new Cabinet.