Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tar, Feathers, And Truth

Even though our staff may be spread across the country, we still take pride in the fact that we're all Nebraskans. In general, Nebraskans have a reputation for level-headed thinking and clear, direct speaking on issues that may make others uncomfortable.

It's the kind of reputation for honesty that - in the past - has made centrist politicians like Chuck Hagel a key figure in Washington, DC. On more than one occasion over the years, Hagel proved he wasn't afraid to speak the truth to those in power in his party, or in the media, as Hagel did again Monday in an exclusive interview with our acquaintance Don Walton at the Lincoln Journal-Star.

It's not a surprise to us that President Obama nominated former Sen. Hagel on Monday to be the next Secretary of Defense. We told you almost a week ago not to think of Hagel as all washed up for the nomination, a recommendation some in both media and politics failed to heed.

We weren't surprised at all to see some in the GOP lining up last weekend to get their metaphorical tar and feathers before Monday's nomination. When you're someone who lives in glass houses like much of the GOP leadership does these days, a straight shooter like Hagel is exactly the type of person who terrifies you.

While there are those in Israeli-allied organizations like AIPAC who initially tossed up a smokescreen surrounding Hagel's reputation, AIPAC itself has since backed off on Hagel. The truth of the matter is that Chuck Hagel really doesn't have a 'Jewish problem' so much as he has a warmonger problem.

Hagel's experience with war, as an infantryman in Vietnam, has very much colored his view of war in the forty-plus years since his time as an enlisted man. His positions on the Iraq War - first to support it, and then later to call out its recklessness and unnecessary, bloated spending - made him a pariah in the face of his own war-happy party.

That Nebraska sensibility - especially when it's been applied with wise experience to issues like war and foreign policy - is exactly why President Obama made Hagel a member of the President's Defense Policy Board, and co-chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board several years ago.

It's also the real reason why so many Republicans, and even a few Democrats, are lining up to try and smear Hagel's reputation.

Make no bones about it - the military/industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about over fifty years ago has indeed come into power, and it's sucking the budget of the U.S. dry. This is something that the former Senator and infantryman sees as wasteful, harmful, and inefficient - and is something that as Secretary of Defense, he will be able to affect greatly.

There are those on the left who are still making noise about anti-gay comments Hagel made towards then-Ambassador James Hormel back in 1997. Hagel has not only apologized, but Hormel and other LGBT leaders have also accepted the apology. Even former LGBT leader Rep. Barney Frank has now recommended Hagel's nomination for Defense Secretary. If the left really wants to have an Obama nominee to scream about, they should be looking at John Brennan, point man for President Obama's controversial drone program.

As far as Hagel's nomination, we have little worry that the former Nebraska Senator won't become the next Secretary of Defense, an opinion even non-Nebraskans are already agreeing with.

Like we said last week, the only people who will end up all wet are those who think they can tar Chuck Hagel as unqualified for Secretary of Defense.

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