William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SOMEONE NOTICED – AT 9:49 A.M. ET:  The confirmation hearings for Chuck Hagel, nominated to be secretary of defense, will soon begin.  What a farce the whole thing is becoming.   Hagel will be confirmed thanks in large measure to the disgraceful behavior of our New York senator, Chuck Schumer, who wants to replace Harry Reid as majority leader, and therefore must follow the Democratic Party line as if it were Scripture.  That includes support for Chuck Hagel.

Thus, Schumer, a pro-Israel, anti-Iran senator, proclaimed himself satisfied this week with Chuck Hagel's "clarifications" of his views about Israel and Iran, views that had been made clear enough over a period of years.  This is known in Washington as the "confirmation conversion." 

But a senior Republican senator is anything but satisfied, and his comments, our quote of the day, make all kinds of sense.  From the Weekly Standard:

Roger Wicker, a senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is "deeply concerned" that Chuck Hagel's "views on Iran sanctions have changed multiple times based on public reaction and criticism of his record."

“I spoke with former Senator Hagel on Tuesday, January 8, and we had a substantive and cordial discussion,” says Wicker in a statement. “During that conversation, Senator Hagel attempted to clarify his prior comments regarding Iran sanctions. He told me that he was opposed to unilateral sanctions on Iran because – in his view – such sanctions do not work and serve only to isolate the United States.

“I am deeply concerned that in the span of one week, Senator Hagel’s views on Iran sanctions have changed multiple times based on public reaction and criticism of his record. I appreciate Senator Hagel’s record of military service, but it is difficult to understand where he stands on many important issues due to constantly changing positions. Saying anything to anyone just to get confirmed is irresponsible and does a disservice to our armed forces and to the entire country.”

COMMENT:  Great statement, and a model for any senator considering confirmation of a nominated individual.  The Senate's role is to advise and consent.  It should do the job.  Hagel should be given a very hard time during his confirmation hearings, even if his confirmation is a foregone conclusion.  These "clarifications" call into question the nominee's integrity, not that this is so shocking in Washington.

January 17, 2013