Sunday, February 03, 2013

The Hagel Roundtable

Dona: Last Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on US President Barack Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. The hearing resulted in reporting by C.I.  "Iraq snapshot" and "Iraq snapshot"; Ava's "Congress was as bad as the press today"; Wally's "Hagel's all mushy (Wally)"; Ruth's "Oh, Winslow" and "Applause for Senator Blumenthal"; and Kat's "Lindsay Graham."  So what I get from your reporting is that Hagel, a former US Senator, was unprepared for his hearing, correct?

curse of chuckie

Kat: He fumbled and stumbled over the most basic questions.  Senator John McCain is supposedly his friend.  A lot has been made of McCain supposedly being rough on him and how is that a friend but friendship works two ways.

Dona: Meaning?

Kat: Meaning that if he and McCain were friends, Hagel should have grasped that the so-called 'surge' in Iraq would have been a topic McCain raised.

Ruth: And how could he go into the hearing and not know that Israel would come up or that his comment about a "Jewish lobby" would be raised?  As C.I. pointed out in her coverage, that was probably the biggest topic -- Israel -- of the hearing. But Hagel was completely unprepared for it.  How does that even happen?

Dona: Well he could have been prepared poorly or he could have thought he knew everything and blown off preparing.

C.I.: Here's a scarier thought: What if that was Hagel at his best?  What if after preparing, that was Hagel at his best?

Wally: That would be something to really worry over.  His performance was awful.

Dona: Ruth, what was your take on his performance?

Ruth: I felt like the entire hearing -- and remember I am old -- was one senior moment after another.  I seriously question whether Mr. Hagel is capable of serving in any capacity.

Dona: I asked Ruth because that because the rest of you were very clear on this issue.  So Ruth says senior moment.  Anyone else?

Wally: I'd say, if you wanted to be kind and white wash it, you could say he had low energy levels.

Dona: Okay.  The point Ruth was referring to earlier, that C.I. reported on, was that the hearing wasted time on the same issues over and over while refusing to address the issues that actually mattered in terms of the duties of the Secretary of Defense.

Ava: Right.  Where was the detailed discussion of rape and assault in the military and what was his plan for addressing that?  Where was the detailed discussion of how he would address suicide within the military?

Wally: It was Ruth's senator, Senator Richard Blumenthal, seriously addressing the assaults and rapes in the military.

Dona: If Blumenthal was serious, Hagel was a joke.  The hair was covered in the reports but I didn't really believe it until I saw photos.  He really does look like Bea Arthur on The Golden Girls.

Wally: I think everyone can agree he did present as a masculine presence at the hearing.

Kat: And the other big standout would be he had no position he stuck to.  Either he refused to acknowledge it -- as with the 'surge' opinion -- or he said he was wrong.  Over and over, that is what happened.

Dona: And what was your impression there?

Kat: It didn't build respect.  How can you take someone seriously if they're either selling out a position or refusing to defend one.

Dona: I had a question in an e-mail about C.I. and Kat's reporting.  It was noted by Burke that C.I. said the Israel issue didn't matter to her anymore and Kat felt that the best moment may have been when Senator Lindsay Graham questioned him on that topic.

C.I.: I'm sorry that Burke was confused but if he'll go back and re-read what I wrote in the Thursday snapshot, I said the "Jewish lobby" remark.  Kat and I can disagree and that's fine but we actually weren't disagreeing.  She was reporting on Graham's questions about Israel.  My issue was the "Jewish lobby" remark.  His calling the lobby for the Israeli government the "Jewish lobby" was either him mispeaking or he seriously believed that Jews in America were part of some grand conspiracy.  His huge bungling of everything in the hearing convinced me that it was very likely he simply mispoke.  But I noted that was my opinion.

Dona: So will he be confirmed?

Kat: I'd say yes.

Wally: Me too.

Ruth: Sure.  There did not seem enough energy.  He was so disappointing that he actually seemed to lower the energy level of his opponents.

Ava: I am going to pass on predictions.  I have no idea how the vote will go.  I will say that, my opinion, I think the hearing demonstrated that he was not qualified for the position.

C.I.: I will go along with Ava.

Dona: Alright, this is a rush transcript.  We're using Isaiah's "The Curse of Chuckie" as our illustration.  And our e-mail address is 

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