Sunday, January 06, 2013

Editorial: The Wrong Choice

How did we get to the point where President Barack Obama might unleash Chuckie Hagel on the Defense Department?

curse of chuckie

If you missed it, supposedly Monday will find Barack nominating Chuckie to be the next Secretary of Defense.  If it takes place, it will be news because a clearer statement on how little the base matters to elected Democrats will be on full display.

Hagel has an awful record.

As FloraLine pointed out at Daily Kos:

 He voted six times for banning servicewomen from being able to get an abortion in military medical facilities WITH THEIR OWN MONEY even if they are stationed in countries where abortion is forbidden for civilians (and he succeeded). In twelve years' time. He also thinks pregnancies caused by rape are "irrelevant" when talking about his no-exceptions-anti-choice position because they don't happen a lot - while fully knowing that a servicewoman is twice as likely to be raped by a fellow American than a civilian is, even, and that the majority of abortions in the military are performed because the subject was raped. Hagel's past has had more than serious consequences for hundreds, if not thousands, of valuable people in the military. Many people got fired for returning home to be able to get an abortion, while many others' careers were terminated because (surprise!) literally forcing unwanted pregnancies to continue creates single moms.

One of the two biggest issues the next Secretary of Defense will have to address is the rate of assault and rape within the ranks of the US military.  It's amazing, therefore, that someone who believes rape is "irrelevant" with regards to reproductive rights could even be seriously considered.

When Hagel said it was "irrelevant," he was stating that rape victims don't get pregnant.  If that sounds familiar, it may be due to the fact that another Republican said that last year.  He was running for the US Senate against incumbent Claire McCaskill who issued this statement, "It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape.  The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive."

When Todd Akin says it, it ends up costing him a close race.  When Barack's potential nominee adheres to the same 'faith,' we're all supposed to look the other way.

 The other big issue the Secretary will face will be addressing the huge number of suicides among service members and veterans.  Hagel has experience in that how?

There's the LGBT issues.  James Kirchick (New York Daily News) points out:

President Obama campaigned for President in 2008 on a pledge to repeal DADT, a goal he achieved in 2010. While allowing open service has caused minimal disruption, shepherding a vast bureaucracy undergoing a fundamental cultural change requires great skill and sensitivity. Further challenges also lie ahead, for instance, the new secretary of defense will have to deal with the question of whether or not the partners of gay service-members should receive the same benefits as those of straight ones. It is worth asking whether Chuck Hagel is really the right man to oversee a government institution unwinding a decades-long discriminatory policy. 

Hagel is not the person to lead on those issues.  As Michelangelo Signorile (Huffington Post) explains, "Hagel scored a zero on the Human Rights Campaign's Senate scorecard between 2001 and 2006 (which is not that long ago), voting against pro-gay initiatives and for anti-gay ones, and was on record as opposing allowing gays to serve openly in the military (calling it a "social experiment"), let alone representing this country as ambassadors."

 If it were the 20th century and not the 21st, Hagel might make an okay Secretary of Defense.

But it is the 21st century.  Women now serve in the military.  (And the next Secretary of Defense will impact whether or not women -- who already serve in combat 'unofficially' -- can do the same officially.)  Gays and lesbians now serve openly as well.  It's not the military that Chuck Hagel was briefly (less than 2 years) serving in back in the 60s.

Nothing he's done in the last 12 years has demonstrated he's stepped into the 21st century or desires to.  The military must address the crisis of suicide and the crisis of assault and rape.  The next Secretary of Defense matters.  Chuck Hagel's not an answer, Chuck Hagel's a spare tire -- a back up you hope you never have to use.


Illustration is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Curse of Chuckie."

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