The Log Cabin Republicans have taken out an ad in the New York Times, in opposition to a potential Chuck Hagel nomination to Defense Secretary, over anti-gay comments Hagel made 14 years ago.
Hagel’s comments, which he apologized for last week, were related to James Hormel, who in 1998 was being considered for a diplomatic position. “They are representing America,” Hagel said of ambassadors. “They are representing our lifestyle, our values, our standards. And I think it is an inhibiting factor to be gay — openly aggressively gay like Mr. Hormel — to do an effective job.”
“Chuck Hagel: Wrong on gay rights. Wrong on Iran. Wrong on Israel,” the Log Cabin Republican ad says. “Tell President Obama that Chuck Hagel is wrong for Defense Secretary.”
The ad also reflects criticism that Hagel is not a big enough supporter of Israel, and is not tough enough on Iran.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., says Hagel’s nomination would lead to “a very tough confirmation process.” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said: ”Lots of Republicans are going to ask him hard questions and I don’t think he’s going to get many Republican votes.” He added: “I like Chuck, but his positions … are really out of the mainstream and well to the left of the president. I think it would be a challenging nomination.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex., has also said he would oppose Hagel, telling the Washington Post: “He appears to believe [a nuclear-armed] Iran can be contained. [Defense Secretary Leon] Panetta and the president have said a nuclear weapon is a red line. He’s not even consistent with the secretary of defense and the administration.”
Michael Hirsh of the National Journal reported over the weekend that the White House is reconsidering nominating Hagel amid all of the opposition:
A senior administration official told National Journal on Sunday that it was “fair” to say Obama is considering candidates other than Hagel for Defense secretary, in particular Michele Flournoy, who was under secretary of Defense for policy in Obama’s first term, and Ashton Carter, the current deputy Defense secretary. Only a week ago, Bloomberg News reported that Hagel was Obama’s top choice.
But this week a number of Hagel supporters have come out of the woodwork, including four former national security advisors, James L. Jones, Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Frank Carlucci, who wrote a letter to the editor in the Washington Post saying that they “strongly object, as a matter of substance and as a matter of principle, to the attacks on the character of former senator Chuck Hagel.”
“Mr. Hagel is a man of unshakable integrity and wisdom who has served his country in the most distinguished manner in peace and war,” the letter says. “He is a rare example of a public servant willing to rise above partisan politics to advance the interests of the United States and its friends and allies. Moreover, it is damaging to the quality of our civic discourse for prospective Cabinet nominees to be subjected to such vicious attacks on their character before an official nomination.”