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Hagel for Defense?: Bruises ahead

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Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, 11:52 a.m.

Chuck Hagel needn't worry about whether Republicans support their fellow former GOP senator for secretary of Defense. It's pretty clear that his former colleagues think so little of him that he'll likely have difficulty gaining even one Republican vote.

What Mr. Hagel has to worry about is whether he can gain sufficient Democrat support. And that appears to be a most-iffy proposition.

Hagel morphed into a liberal Republican who represented Nebraska in the U.S. Senate for two terms ending in 2009. At least on the surface, he appears to be the perfect choice to succeed Leon Panetta. Hagel's not only a decorated Vietnam veteran, supposedly attuned well to the needs of the military and how to balance them with today's fiscal realities, but he spent time on the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees.

But his record remains quite problematic. Think of his belittling of the U.S.-Israel alliance and his push to have Israel negotiate with terrorists. Think of his past intemperate remarks about gays, for which he only recently apologized, and that only when his name was floated for the Defense job. And think of what many perceive to be his coddling of Iran's mullahs.

But Hagel also spread so much ill will among his onetime Senate colleagues with his hardly amicable style that there's no “natural base” of support left among Republicans or Democrats, reports Politico.

The nation has more pressing needs than a bruising confirmation battle. The nation can do better than Chuck Hagel.

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