COLUMN: Congress should confirm Hagel as secretary of defense
I see no good reason why U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel R-Neb. should not be confirmed as secretary of defense, a potential appointment by President Barack Obama that is largely being blocked by Hagel’s own Republican Party.
Sen. Hagel won my approval as far back as 2008 when he was strongly critical of the policies of the Bush/Cheney administration in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
As Hagel’s critics are apt to point out, this was somewhat late in the game, seven years after the launch of the war in Afghanistan and five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. But this was still during the time frame in which most of the Republican Party, or more accurately Vice President Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and the vociferous right-wing media complex i.e., FOX News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, etc., held sway and cast anyone that criticized anything to do with the wars as treasonous, America hating, terrorist sympathizers who were giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
I had to respect anyone from the GOP that would go against the grain on that point alone.
The GOP hailed this kind of maverick action as a virtue in the 2008 election cycle.
What was considered as an asset is now commonly marshaled as evidence of a person being a Republican in name only. This inconsistency is confusing and comical. It leaves one with the impression that whoever is controlling the Republican Party is either incapable of self-reflection or thinks the American public is completely incompetent.
One could make the argument the objection’s to Hagel’s nomination is evidence that the Republican Party is willing to break its uniformity and criticize its own members. But it could also be cited as evidence that the Party will oppose anything that Obama puts on the table.
I am confused. The logic employed by many Conservatives lost me a long time ago.
It wasn’t so long ago that the GOP also threw Republican icon Colin Powell, former national security adviser, commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired four-star general and 65th U.S. secretary of state under the bus. During the 2008 presidential race, Powell had become weary of the partisanship and tactics of his own party and dared to back Obama for president. This in turn earned him charges of being racist and voting based on skin color or ethnicity rather than merit.
Coincidentally, Powell backs the Hagel nomination, stating the senator from Nebraska is “superbly qualified.” He should know.
Since February 17, 2013, the opponents of Hagel’s appointment have softened their position and conceded that he is likely to be installed.
Not only should you be comfortable with the appointment, but also do whatever you can as a citizen to help influence the Republican Party to reel in the rhetoric and return to rationality. As much antipathy as I have for the GOP, this country absolutely needs both of its mainstream parties to be able to reach compromise. This remains true no matter what you think of the other party. Be a part of the solution rather than the problem.
Scott Starr is a Native American studies senior.