William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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HAGEL HIRED TODAY – AT 8:36 A.M. ET:  Chuck Hagel, the most controversial candidate for a Cabinet post in recent history, is expected to be confirmed today as secretary of defense.  The vote by the Senate should be essentially among party lines.

It is a disgrace.  Secretary of defense has traditionally been seen as a bipartisan position.  No sitting secretary has been confirmed with more than three votes against him.  Hagel is expected to be opposed by as many as 40 senators.  From the Washington Free Beacon:

A sharply divided Senate is scheduled to cast a final vote on the contested nomination of secretary of defense nominee Chuck Hagel Tuesday, ending a months-long battle that has centered on the nominee’s controversial past statements.

Hagel, a former Republican Nebraska senator, faced criticism from Republicans and some Democrats immediately following his nomination by the president last month.

Critics have accused Hagel of being anti-Semitic, overtly hostile to Israel, and cozy with Iran’s ruling regime, which has endorsed him.

The nominee has also faced questions about his failure to disclose multiple speeches and his financial entanglements, which include ties to a number of foreign governments.

The Senate is expected to vote mostly along party lines Tuesday in approving Hagel, sending him to the Pentagon amid an unusual level of partisan rancor that could jeopardize his effectiveness.

Senate sources close to the confirmation process said the White House has expended “an enormous amount of political capitol” on Hagel’s nomination.

“The president has spent an enormous amount of political capital to get Hagel barely across the finish line,” said one senior Senate aide. “In order to get here, Hagel had to disavow his entire career, his entire persona, and his entire fringe anti-Israel political base.”

COMMENT:  The intriguing question is why Obama put so much into Hagel, a demonstrably confused and unqualified candidate, a man dangerously cordial with enemies of the United States.  He reminds me of the State Department diplomats before World War II who saw no serious problem with Nazi Germany. 

New negotiations are starting right now with Iran over its nuclear program.  Tehran has openly endorsed Hagel, an extraordinary move for a foreign, hostile nation.  And the American press yawns.

February 26,  2013