Monday, 7 January 2013

Why Chuck Hagel's Confirmation is a Slam-Dunk

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Chuck Hagel is going to be the next Secretary of Defense, unless there are surprises or skeletons in his closet.  Already his "opposition" has defectors, such as Barney Frank, who initially expressed reservations. There will be grandstanding at the Senate confirmation hearings by Lindsay Graham and others -- folks have to play to their base -- but the real players will not challenge the president on this one. (I am betting Chuck Shumer will vote for him after his "concerns" have been allayed.)

Jeff Goldberg says what I have been thinking -- and that doesn't happen very often -- that AIPAC is not going to mount a significant opposition here. Not only do they know that this is a lost cause, but they also know that Hagel can be managed on Israel. For one thing, the mlitary-industrial complexes of Israel and the US are so tied together that even Jimmy Carter -- heck, even Ali Abunimah -- couldn't render them asunder. For another,  AIPAC's strength has always been in Congress and not in the cabinet or the administration.

Again, all this could change if AIPAC smells blood, but it is never in AIPAC's interest to lose a battle; that was the famous lesson they learned when they saw they would lose the AWACS battle under President Reagan. They will keep a low profile. If you don't fight, you can't lose.

That doesn't meant to say that AIPAC, like the NRA, won't go after those Republican supporters of Hagel when election time comes around. So I wouldn't rule out some caving for fear of the Israel Lobby's money.

Oh sure, the Republican tea-party types (thank God, it's not the House that confirms cabinet appointments) will make a lot of noise in the confirmation hearings, and the media is whipping up the enthusiasm before the big Senate fight for its ratings. But when Joe Scarbourough backs Hagel, you know that Obama has once again succeeded in pitting  Republican against Republican. I can't wait to see Charles Krauthammer grind his teeth over "The Return of the Real Obama" -- Part Two. After all, there are a heck of a lot of Republicans out there who want to send William Kristol to Alaska for good. And, frankly, there is no danger to Kristol, either. After all, he will never have problem raising money for his various think-tank projects. If there was ever a better example of the well-fed dog barking while the caravan moves on, I can't think of one

Whether President Obama has grown a spine, or some other part of his anatomy, he has hit his stride. Who knows? He may actually do something one day that Paul Krugman likes.

I write this from Jerusalem, where the news is unbelievably bad and gets worse daily.  Now religious"settlements" are being built not only on the West Bank but in Arab neighborhoods Lod/Lydda, Jaffa, and Acco/Acre. And the tactics used to expel Arabs from their homes are sickening. See the article in Haaretz today.

So at least I get a little naches from somebody like Chuck Hagel, who is willing to treat the Palestinians as human beings.

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