With sequestration almost sure to begin this week, and some Americans fear of it matched by other Americans’ exasperation with them, let’s change the subject—to another confidence inspiring story of government and politics!
This week, the Senate will consider the nomination of former Republican senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) to be Secretary of Defense. It’s unusual, of course, for a Democratic president to nominate a Republican, though President Obama has done it before with fellow Illinoisan Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
This nomination is unusual, though, because instead of extending the usual fawning appreciation senators give to each other, a number of Republicans are opposing his nomination.
The reason clusters around Hagel’s insufficient support for Israel. And that’s where the story gets funny.
On Feb. 6, a reporter at the New York Daily News called a Republican aide on Capitol Hill and asked him if they were looking into Hagel’s anti-Israel ties.
“I asked my source,” writes Dan Friedman, “had Hagel given a speech to, say, the ‘Junior League of Hezbollah, in France’? And: What about ‘Friends of Hamas’?”
Friedman was using ridiculous examples of relationships Hagel might have.
“The names were so over-the-top,” he writes, “so linked to terrorism in the Middle East, that it was clear I was talking hypothetically and hyperbolically. No one could take seriously the idea that organizations with those names existed — let alone that a former senator would speak to them.”
But wouldn’t you know it, before long, media provocation machine Breitbart was reporting on Hagel’s alleged connections to “Friends of Hamas.” And suddenly “Friends of Hamas” was all over then news.
This week, the Senate is likely to vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination. We don’t know much more about his positions on Israel. But we do know that his opposition looks pretty silly.