Ted Frier

Ted Frier
April 02
Ted Frier is an author and former political reporter turned speechwriter who at one time served as communications director for the Massachusetts Republican Party, helping Bill Weld become the first Bay State Republican in a generation to be elected Governor. He was Chief Speechwriter for Republican Governor Paul Cellucci and Lt. Governor Jane Swift. Ted is also the author of the hardly-read 1992 history "Time for a Change: The Return of the Republican Party in Massachusetts." So, why the current hostility to the Republican Party and what passes for conservatism today? The Republican Party was once a national governing party that looked out for the interests of the nation as a whole. Now it is the wholly-owned subsidiary of self interest. Conservatism once sought national unity to promote social peace and harmony. Now conservatism has devolved into a right wing mutation that uses divide and conquer tactics to promote the solidarity of certain social sub-groups united against the larger society while preserving the privileges of a few.


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FEBRUARY 3, 2013 2:16PM

Hagel Blows Chance to Show Israel Who's Boss

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A prospective Defense Secretary who can't even defend himself. That was the unfortunate impression left by Chuck Hagel at this week's confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The most charitable thing you can say about the former Nebraska Republican Senator's stumbling, bumbling, defensive performance was that, like all good generals, Hagel picks fights only when he occupies terrain of his own choosing. And this week's confrontation with former Republican colleagues John McCain and Lindsey Graham as they peered down on him from the dais like a pack of hyenas surveying a raw piece of meat, was not the optimal place to give battle.

The word from the White House is that the President's people were disappointed Hagel was not more aggressive or combative in pushing back against the bullying he got from McCain, Graham and Texas Tea Party newcomer Ted Cruz, whose insulting and badgering inquisition of the witness may have set a new low for Republican bad behavior.

But I am with Daily Beast's Peter Beinart. I blame Team Obama for this. The only reason for choosing Senator Hagel to begin with -- a vintage Vietnam War veteran and decorated "grunt" -- was "to challenge the mindless hawkishness that still dominates so much Beltway foreign policy debate."

Yet, when Hagel had the chance to challenge the unsportsmanlike conduct he got from McCain on the wisdom of the Iraq "surge" -- or Graham on the power and influence of the Israeli Lobby -- Hagel looked as if he was taking one for Team Obama, ducking out on the fight, or surrendering too quickly, which is an altogether too common feature of the Obama White House in the eyes of many concerned liberals.

The tragedy, as Beinart notes, is that Hagel did not want for lack of good arguments.

In response to McCain's repeated badgering, Hagel might have asked why McCain thought the surge had been worth the 1,200 American lives it cost, said Beinart. Better yet, he could have reminded McCain that the Iraq War began in 2003 with an invasion on a fool's errand to find non-existent weapons of mass destruction, not in 2006 with the surge, and so was the Senator from Arizona still unrepentant about championing one of the biggest blunders in American foreign policy?

On Iran, said Beinart, Hagel could have told his GOP tormenters that all options should be on the table, but all options means more than military force and includes the pursuit of a diplomatic deals as well.

"He could have explained that just because we reserve the right to take military action does not mean we should ignore the numerous former military and intelligence officials, in both America and Israel, who warn that military action could produce a horrific regional war, strengthen the Iranian regime, and ultimately make an Iranian nuclear weapon more likely, not less," said Beinart.

And finally, said Beinart, when bullied by Lindsey Graham to provide one piece of evidence that the Senate had acted stupidly because it had been intimidated by the "Jewish Lobby," Hagel could have pointed to the hearings themselves.

After all said Beinart, if Hagel's inquisitors were not so interested in staying on AIPAC's good side, why then did the hearing feature 136 mentions of Israel, 135 of Iran, but only 27 references to Afghanistan where more than 60,000 US servicemen and women are currently fighting and dying?

"And instead of robotically restating his love of the Jewish state," says Beinart, "Hagel could have said what many Israeli top security officials do: that Israel's policy of subsidizing West Bank settlement causes immense Palestinian suffering and existentially threatens the Jewish state, and that ignoring that fact does Israel no favors."

But Hagel said none of these things, laments Beinart. And so by "neutering" himself, by refusing to "speak from the gut" and by displaying  "ideological incoherence" in what appeared like an effort to avoid a fight with his former colleagues, Hagel instead gave right-wingers like McCain, Graham, and Cruz the scent of political fear that let them think they can push him around -- and by extension, push the Obama Administration around until it caves on the most hawkish line on Israel and on other conflicts around the world.

It's Hagel's retreat on Israel I find the most problematic. At some point, and to further world peace, the Obama Administration must put Bibi Netanyahu and his right wing Israeli coalition in their place. They must do so by reminding Israel who in this "historic friendship" is boss.

"Netanyahu has long exuded an extraordinary confidence that he could make the American government bend to his will," says Beinart, noting that after Netanyahu's first meeting with Bill Clinton as prime minister, Clinton remarked in bewilderment, "He thinks he is the superpower and we are here to do what he requires."

Netanyahu's arrogant assumption that, as Beinart says, "when push comes to shove, US leaders can be moved in the direction he wants them to go," was on full display before last fall's election when Netanyahu traveled to Washington uninvited, petulantly complained of not getting an audience with the President, and then, in the view of many, was openly campaigning for the President's challenger while on American soil.

The real danger is that this same Netanyahu -- fresh off his reelection victory, presiding over the only nuclear armed country in the Middle East, and governing an expansionist power spurred on to claim new territory by right wing fear-mongering about existential threats coming from Iran or the Palestinians -- might miscalculate in his hubris and launch a unilateral, unannounced attack against Iran after presuming he has the world's only superpower in his pocket.

Maybe Hagel and the White House thought Hagel had the Senate's confirmation in the bag and so the wisest course of action was not to rock the boat. Maybe they also thought Republicans would surely hang themselves if Hagel just gave them enough rope and hung in there while McCain, Graham and Cruz delivered what Beinart called their "bloviating, tendentious monologues."

That might have been good political tactics. But it was lousy strategy because an important strategic chance was squandered by Hagel's passivity as the Obama White House lost a golden opportunity to look Netanyahu and the Israeli Lobby in the eye and show them that this administration, at least, is not afraid of them.

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Funny about this. I too worry. But maybe, just maybe, Mr. Hagel is not really all that verbal. That's terrible for the news conference, but beyond that, I just don't know.
Funny about this. I too worry. But maybe, just maybe, Mr. Hagel is not really all that verbal. That's terrible for the news conference, but beyond that, I just don't know.
[r] Hagel lay down and exposed his throat pathetically as McCain did a great impression of Joe McCarthy (I couldn't stomach watching much of it). any hope that hagel would combat the amoral status quo circled the bowl. Hagel hasn't been all that heroic, but considering the bipartisan lock-step cronyism of not being weak on terrorism and unconditional support of anything Israel does even hesitating or clearing your throat before kissing the feet of the lobbyists or war-mongerers means you are a traitor. best, libby
" Iraq War began in 2003 with an invasion on a fools errand to find non-existant weapons of mass destruction, not in 2006 with the surge"

actually the iraq war was a long planned attempt to seize control of the middle east through colonization of iraq. it was at least a grand idea, however morally barren and hopelessly ignorant of reality.

the fixation of congress on the well-being of israel can only be surmised to rest on sustained and widespread bribery.
I agree with everything that both you and Beinart have stated except: "Netanyahu has long exuded an extraordinary confidence that he could make the American government bend to his will..."

That should REALLY read, "Netanyahu has long exuded an extraordinary confidence that he HAS make the American government bend to his will..." (not to mention AIPACs).

Cas in point is we couldn't even get them to attend, after "ALL" of our diplomatic pressure, their UN Human Rights Review. Course that's because they know their genocide of the Palestinian people would become clear to everyone.
The Surge was correct as a question, because an imploded Iraq was a disaster, especially if you thought toppling Saddam was a bad idea, if he wasn't a humanitarian either.
Picking a fight with Israel is suicidal in American politics, and, Israel is a nuclear-armed state, and so therefore has to be handled correctly, carefully, although you are correct that many Israeli security professionals do not buy the Likkud-Jewish Home-Shas line,although that is close to a majority right now. Not a good time for that fight, as to what is the Left's major malfunction on that issue.
This is a response to the post, not the comment stream.

I should preface what I say by stating that I am a Jew and a Zionist and I've had a lot of arguments on OS in which I have defended Israel. I didn't watch the hearings but, assuming this description is accurate (I have no reason to assume otherwise), I agree with you.

For Netanyahu to be that intransigent about the West Bank settlements, for him to approve new Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, and for him to build new Jewish settlements between East Jerusalem and Palestinian populations is terrible for Israel in the long run. There are three possible long-term outcomes in Israel/West Bank/Gaza:

1. Status quo or some sort of settlement forced on the Palestinians where they have a state minus the settlements and any piece of East Jerusalem. Militarily possible but a guaranteed formula for long-term terrorism and continued Arab opposition to Israel. It absolutely insures no forseeable peace.

2. The one-state solution. Within a single generation, Muslims outnumber Jews, leading either to Israel no longer being a Jewish state (the reason it exists) or to Israel becoming an actual apartheid state, the real thing. The rest of the world's Jews can tolerate a lot up to a point but most of the American Jewish population does not want to be attached to that role. That will mean that whatever American support Israel has will have to shift even more to the Christian Right and, for the first time, more away from the American Jewish community. Unless, of course, someone else is stupid enough to threaten Israel's existence, a phenomenon which always lines the world's Jews up behind Israel no matter how stupid and instransigent Likud has been.

3. The real two-state solution. This is the only long-term solution that makes any sense because it could actually defuse most of the problem, leading to the long-term possibility that Israel would actually become a normal Middle-Eastern player instead of a pariah. However, Netanyahu is doing everything he can to make this impossible. This is why I, as a Zionist, can't stand him - I think he is horrendous for Israel.

As an American, I don't think Netanyahu should be calling the shots, and I think he has that opportunity to too great an extent. It's distinctly odd that I of all people should say that the amount of Israel's influence in Washington is a bad thing but I have to because some of the directions Israel's influence is being used in Washington are actively bad for Israel.

This is not to excuse any other actors, particularly Iran. I don't defend Iran for much and find that most defenses of the Ahmedinejad regime are disingenuous at best. However, I agree with Hagel that talking to Iran doesn't cost us anything and, if anything, increases our influence. That doesn't take any threats off the table. This doesn't involve sympathy with Iran, it just involves logic in terms of refusing to take tools out of our toolbox.

The fact that support for Israel is two-pronged and virulent in both prongs, part from the Jewish Left and part from the Christian Right, means that there's nowhere on the political landscape to go with opposition. No matter where you are, antizionism is politically expensive. I don't object to that per se for a variety of reasons, which I won't go into because I don't want to write an actual book on your post, but I do object to the fact that Zionism is being equated in Washington with the Likud line. That's dangerous, and the current result is that Zionism is being used as a club in these hearings to beat Hagel into line when, frankly, he doesn't belong there. The way Zionism is being used at the moment is neither wise nor appropriate.
If he does pass the test, will he be effective in this environment?

Thank for your very informed comment. I agree with your analysis entirely. I see nothing but the tragedy you spell out for Israel if it continues on its current rightest and expansionary course abroad or its restrictive and exclusionary one at home. "Appeasement" is a word the neoconservatives who support the present Israeli government, no questions asked, throw around a lot to tee up wars they think will strengthen Israel's position in the region. But appeasement of Israel's worst self-destructive tendencies is exactly what the US government must avoid if it really wants to be a good friend to the Jewish State. A miscalculation by Israel that it can unilaterally start a war with Iran and that the US will have no choice but to join in is what I fear most and why its imperative Netanyahu not think the US military is little more than an auxiliary of the IDF.
Israel has the ability to burn cities to the ground, because it is a nuclear armed state, if its a Dachsund that fancies itself a pit bull at times too, like Kissinger warned, Belgium acting too much like Prussia.
Nonetheless, it is a very powerful state militarily, and paranoid to a point too, and has very real enemies, and as such, it is unwise too often to try to boss it around, or so some argue quite reasonably.
As to the Palestinians, yes, it is tragic. However, that is hardly the only issue in the Middle East either, as can be seen with Syrian chemical weapons, and Iran's nuclear weapons program, the latter also capable of striking Israel with chemical weapons, if as a nuclear armed state, they would have to hesitate using such measures.
Other issues Israel didn't create are the Brotherhood versus the Nasserists versus Liberals, plus the tension within the Saudi monarchy and its society, little of which would be miraculously cured by a resolution of the Palestinian issue, if, it probably would help some.
But the premise here is flawed, as to it being an opportunity to bossing people around, instead of surviving a chance to do things most people here on OS think they want, so poisoned is this place against Israel. And I'm hardly Jewish.
I don't think most if the Israeli military establishment favors attacking Iran.
That answer wasn't to Don because his comment wasn't up while Zi was writing.
I, not Zi. I'm writing on a a phone
Isolating the State of Israel, and making it feel threatened of being abandoned in particular, is the surest way to lose any control over that State in my view, just because of demography of the region.
Koshersalami is correct that just blindly supporting Likud is a bad idea potentially, although that raises questions of interference in a democratic countries politics too, if that goes both ways, and in general with allies, and Israel is an ally net. People here on OS seem weirdly anti-Israel, like wanting to tear down the whole world over Palestinians who factually speaking rejected the premise of Israel's existence until fairly recently.
Do people on OS wish that like Dr. Goebels suggested, they move to Madagascar, or instead, find some modus vivendi that is feasible, and feasible is hard enough as it is, given the issue of Al Aqsa. That might prove fatal, but just bashing Israel all the time as is so common on OS not only shows a loss of contact with power realities, Israel being a nuclear armed state with Jericho missiles capable of taking lots of people with them, but isn't helpful for actual Palestinians, who need to see they could lose everything, if they don't deal on the basis of power, not what was promised in 1936, or before Balfour etc... And that's my last remark, and have a nice evening.
I've stated on my own blog many times that turning the public pressure up on Israel is how to make Israel intransigent. Criticize, yes, but demonize and increase Netanyahu's influence
I'm at a keyboard now, so I'll answer Don in more detail.

That a lot of people on OS are weirdly anti-Israel is something I've observed. My objection, incidentally, is not with criticism of Israel - as you can see from my first comment, I'm not uncritical, and I have a lot of other problems with Israel, including an internal civil rights climate that needs a lot of work. (By "internal," I mean pertaining to Muslim Israeli citizens, not to the occupied population. That's an entirely different dynamic. The only place the Apartheid label could legitimately be used in theory is on the citizen population; military occupation is a different animal than Apartheid is.) My problem with criticism of Israel is when I see double standards, when moral expectations of the Israelis are radically different than moral expectations of neighbors. This has most recently been evident where Iran is concerned. I've read too many comments vilifying Israel's response to Iran while ignoring any and all of Iran's culpability in generating such a response, which makes zero sense.

I'll get back to the issue of Hagel. I think Hagel is at least close to the right place from what I've seen. Some of the reasons he's being vilified may be fair but some clearly aren't, like that whole bit about his refusal to sign onto the Senate resolution concerning Russian treatment of Jews. He doesn't believe in addressing other governments that way about internal issues; this wasn't specifically about Jews for him.

In terms of handling Israel, in terms of moving Israel in the right direction, there's a balancing act. Really, the trick is to pressure Israel to approach a two-state solution seriously, as in a way it might actually work because a solution that is too one-sided will be unstable and won't stop violence, but not to vilify Israel out of proportion to area standards about non-settlement issues. Israel is a paranoid nuclear power. The more isolated they get, the more intransigent they get. Whenever anyone is enough of a fool to, for example, start accusing the Israelis of genocide, they give the current Israeli administration evidence that the rest of the world is against them and that we have to stand behind them to insure their continued existence against international unity. Incidentally, if the Israelis were actually practicing genuine genocide, most Palestinians would be dead now.

Dealing with Israel is like being in a Chinese handcuff. You know what one is, right? It's a sort of mesh wicker tube that holds your fingers in it. The harder you pull, the more it tightens, so the way to extricate yourself is to pull gently. The way to deal with Israel is not to turn the pressure up (other than on West Bank issues), it's to turn the pressure down. Both the internal Left and most of the American Jewish community will be way more inclined to deal with civil rights and equality issues when we stop worrying about threats to Israel's survival. Worrying about justice issues is what we normally do; threats just keeps those issues off the table. As a strictly practical matter, telling the Israelis that they should tolerate daily missile fire at civilians - when no one would ever have a parallel expectation of anyone else on the planet - or that the actions of an Iranian regime that stole its last national election, sponsors and supplies terrorists who have killed Israelis, and holds international conferences denying Jewish history shouldn't be taken seriously because to do so is fundamentally unreasonable will just persuade Israelis and Jews that the World is just against Israel by nature, presumably because it is Jewish, and that intransigence is the only logical response.

Force won't work. They are a nuclear power with a strong military and they are supersentive to whatever they perceive as threats to their existence. Keep in mind that the big lesson of the Holocaust is not "the world owes us," it's "we take threats extremely seriously and we can't rely on anyone else to insure our survival. Been there, done that, lost one out of every three of our people."

The Israeli regime can cope with threats very well. What they can't cope with is the lack of threats, because then there's no excuse for how they treat anybody. "How can you be against us when people are shooting missiles at us? How can you be against us when another country sponsors terrorists and has them attack us - the last time Hezbollah attacked Israel, we hadn't crossed the Lebanese border is Six Years, holds Holocaust denial conferences in their capital, holds military parades identifying us as their enemy and target (including written physically on their missiles), and talks on many governmental levels about our destruction, and during this is apparently developing nukes, without another obvious place to aim those nukes? Even the Secretary General of the United Nations flew to Tehran to tell them in public that they shouldn't be threatening us, and yet pundits all over the world vilify us for taking their threats seriously! We didn't start by threatening Iran, why would we? This was their idea.This is no time to desert us."

And so guys like me have to run around talking about how judging the players so assymetrically means I have to stick up for my people instead of running around saying to the Israeli government "You're not being just." Their reply is "You can tell us we're not just when you're prepared to say the same thing to the other players who aren't. We're the biggest criminals in the Middle East when Assad next door kills more civilians in a month than we do in a year? We're the agressors when Iran started in with us without our provoking them directly at all? Why are you picking us to criticize in this very combative sandbox? What makes us different? Well, we know damned well what makes us different and I'm afraid it's the same thing that makes you different; don't forget that."

The problem is that they're right. I don't approve of what they're doing, but it isn't they who are tying my hands.
I agree with (international) analysts who assert that the Obama administration has decided that Israel is dispensable - that they have signaled this by backing overt jihadists in Libya and Syria. The Electronic Intifada and other pro-Palestinian sites have sure picked up on this, which is why they have switched their call from a "two state solution" to a "one state" solution.

If you haven't watched the documentary The Iron Wall, you should. The West Bank is so thoroughly littered with Jewish settlements that there is no longer enough contiguous Palestinian territory to implement a two state solution.

The one state solution remains the only possible option. The only way Netanyahu can win by continuously building settlements is to exterminate the Palestinians, and with islamists in control in Israel's neighbors Egypt and Syria, this ain't going to happen.

Along with the one state solution comes the persistent demographic problem that Arabs will outnumber Jews. In other words Israel's days as an Jewish state are numbered, and Obama, Hagel, the Palestinians and Netanyahu all know it.
Actually, the Israeli regime could change and they could do in the West Bank what they did in Gaza years ago - forcibly pull the settlers out. That would do the trick. If they don't, you're probably right.

What's not going to happen is actual Palestinian genocide. The result would be too much isolation, including from Americans and most diaspora Jews. Also, they'd be way, way too internally divided. I don't think they have enough of a constituency for literal mass murder. I'm not saying there isn't a small group of lunatic rabbis somewhere who couldn't manage to corrupt Torah enough, but there would be too many who would not accept that kind of corruption on that scale. Also, their military history doesn't go that way. A mlitary that drops a million leaflets on a population saying: "Move out of this area, we're about to bomb it" and a military that puts so much attention into surgical assassination strikes rather than just killing everyone in the neighborhood is not a military that is geared for mass extermination, they're a military geared toward avoiding it. It would be terribly easy to simply bomb indiscriminately in response to missiles or rely on artillery. The truth is that killing more civilians in that manner wouldn't cost them all that much in terms of world PR because a whole lot of people treat them as if they already do that, including people on this site.
dude, this is all true but on the other hand, actions speak louder than words. not sure if hagel is a sissy as people are painting him to be, but its very rare to find a real genuine warmonger contrarian. and a republican no less. its a small miracle. the hearing is just a show. its not really his job to stand up to senators... is it?
dude, this is all true but on the other hand, actions speak louder than words. not sure if hagel is a sissy as people are painting him to be, but its very rare to find a real genuine warmonger contrarian. and a republican no less. its a small miracle. the hearing is just a show. its not really his job to stand up to senators... is it?
I don't think the poor guy had much choice. An open discussion of Israel is not possible publicly. That's what Hagel's confirmation proves, and he wasn't going to put himself any further on the line by sacrificing himself.

You have to consider how almost totally innocuous and inadvertant his comment was that led to his trial by fire. It is still almost impossible to criticise Israel, no matter how well the words are crafted, or how in line with American interests and those of world peace. Try writing one where you lay it on the line.

I did and the outcome is inevitable. I've been asking the question: Where is the Israeli Obama since Obama was elected. His single biggest mistake in foreign affairs was not directly addressing the people of Israel after his first election as he did the Arab people. Netanyaho practices no such discretion.

The best news from Israel in years is the new government, where the secularists have at least found a spokesman. It's gonna take time to see if he can build on it, and proves to be an effective politician.

When a nation is effectively in the grips of a mass psychosis and fanatical ideology, despite any and all calls to reason, they will wreck havoc, and in the end there is no greater threat to their survival.
It's worth noting that Beinart's single largest contribution to the discussion so far, for which he was promptly renouced, was the polling of Israelis that found a wide difference in views on the basis of age in the populace.

The new generation was decidedly more likely to favor more appeasement with the Palestinians in one form or other, rather than endless confrontation. I think it helped in the formation of the J Street lobby, in the protests that activated the generation, and now has given birth to a new party.

I think mostly the secularists had given up hope. I don't think Obama is done with the issue either, and we sure as hell haven't seen the end of what the new more Democratized Arab nations are going to do. Give them time too re-group.

It is becoming more incumbent upon the Israelis too make peace every day, and eventually our government will no longer be bound to a rogue nation.
Thanks Ben, we are on the same page. When you spoke about Beinart's comments about Jewish public opinion did you mean Jews in Israel or in this country? I do remember Beinart writing not to long ago how Israel was losing support of young Jews in this country because of the increasingly hardline stands taken by the Israeli governments, and the growing power of more orthodox elements trying to convert Israel into a theocracy. But it still seems there is a substantial liberal voice in Israel even though the endless cycles of violence and hatred are taking their toll, as perhaps they were intended to, as the country moves ever to the right.
Common sense is often identified by references to fundamental principles and implementations of simple actions.

The interrogation of Mr. Hagel regarding America’s foreign policy with respect to Israel should have triggered in you a reference to the tenet that the Secretary of State, and not the Secretary of Defense, is the primary advisor to the President in this area. This, in turn, may have led you to recommend the less complicated measure of suggesting that Mr. Hagel’s responses to questions on this topic remind those at the confirmation hearing that the job for which he was interviewing involves advising the President on the capacities and readiness of America’s armed forces, and not foreign policy.

You correctly identified the fool’s errand of disarming Iraq of WMDs as the reason for our disastrous second war with that country. Despite his vote for the use of force on this occasion, why didn’t you recommend that Hagel’s response to McCain’s questions regarding the Surge be that one doesn’t throw good money after bad, as was done in Viet Nam?

I won’t dwell on how such responses may have been more clear and forceful than either the ones you recommend or the ones actually given. I won’t dwell on how such responses may have greatly improved Chuck’s performance and shortened his eight-hour interrogation.

However, I see potential damage here. Following the recommendations of your post further propagates the notion that the advise and consent function granted to the Senate by the Constitution is an excuse (to continue) to conduct the absurd political theater during this and (so many) other confirmation hearings. Instead of interrogating candidates on their qualifications for fulfilling the post for which they are nominated, such hearings provide the opportunity for political knives to come out on topics far removed from any determination of the competence with which the candidate might fill the post.

We all know why some members of committee were motivated to quiz Mr. Hagel on the topics of Israel and the Surge in Iraq. However, Chuck’s comments on these topics largely occurred while he was a Senator. The Senate has an obligation to oversee the actions of the executive branch in both foreign policy and military activity. This oversight is not a part of the portfolio of the Secretary of Defense.

On the other hand, Mr. Hagel faces the real possibility that the (irresponsible) sequestration of funding will significantly impact the manner with which our armed forces are trained and equipped. Note how little has been reported on this subject with regard to his confirmation hearing, how little time was spent on the matter at this hearing, and the complete absence of this topic from your post. This all seems to point to some fuzzy headed thinking regarding the purpose of confirmation hearings.

My overall impression is that you have discovered that politicians only become statesmen when they retire with the conviction that they will never again seek public office. Congratulations, you are the most recent among thousands who have finally come to understand this.
Beinart's latest book, THE CRISIS OF ZIONISM refers to the transistion both in Israel and the US. I've had Jewish-American friends who have seen through Israeli intransigence for 40ty years--long before me.

But my personal hero is Tony Judt, who called Israel a "rogue nation" publically as a scholar many years ago as a result of his experiences as a young man in Israel. I review his last book, THINKING THE TWENTIETH CENTURY on my blog.

And yes, I think the nation is guilty of crimes against humanity, and what makes it unlike others guilty of similar crimes is that the United States has aided and abeted those crimes by offering unconditional support for decades after it became completely clear that is the case.

That Obama has said he doesn't not support the settlements, and they need to end shows he's not one of their lackeys. I think the question of what he is going to do next from a strategic standpoint is one of the most significant for his second term.

I think the least he could do is invite the new leader to the White House, and I can hardly wait to see him on the US talk shows. (Charley Rose, where are you?)
Uncle Cheri:

Since the whole system in democratic politics is essentially corrupt, since all politicians can't be trusted, which is what you appear to be saying, I guess we should all go buy our assault rifles now to prepare for the impending revolution.
Yesterday's NYTIMES had a piece indicating Hegel may be nominated since McCain agreed not to fillibuster, so his game of cat and mouse may have worked after all.

Israel shouldn't assume that it is boss in its relationship with the U.S., but it also works the other way. The U.S. is not the boss of Israel. They are both sovereign nations.

The creation of a sovereign Jewish homeland, with the hearty support of the United Nations, and the blessings of Great Britain, which controlled Palestine, was a wise choice. The war made it clear that the Jews could not depend on the protection of the nations in which they were dispersed. Nothing like the Holocaust has occurred since, and everybody with any moral sense should applaud that fact. Based on history, Israel has every reason to be extremely vigilant in its defense, and has done a good job of it.
Ted, I really don't know what leftist journalism propaganda course you took that blinded you to objective reality, but when you say things like the Republicans are and I quote The Republican Party was once a national governing party that looked out for the interests of the nation as a whole. Now it is the wholly-owned subsidiary of self interest, I truly wonder if you ever got off Ken Kesey's psychedelic bus, and began the process of social assimilation. The most distressing part of reading your forays into self delusion is that there are people who agree with you which illustrates the problem we have in America of misperception spurred on by our leftest and treasonous mass media, of which you must surely need to feel a part of. Getting back to your quote concerning the Republican Party, you must surely be inferring that Republicans leaning more to the right due to the influence of the Tea Party must somehow have transformed them into a different animal suffering from its own excesses. If you were to look objectively at the right you would clearly see that their guidepost of our founders who advocated less government not more, keeping more of your income instead of having it confiscated for Democratic vote buying through faulty social engineering programs, would serve America much better than the convoluted lies and globalist influenced deception of the Obama White House that is now presently lying it's way out of its responsibility for the deaths of Americans in Libya. Please get a clue and stop insulting those of us who still possess intelligence.
Too bad you weren't tapped for the post Ted. If that were a job interview Hagel should be disqualified. I've liked his past positions, especially his refusal to pander to the more extreme Israeli positions. But after that performance I'm not sure what to think. If he is confirmed I hope he has some inner resources and/or some trusted confidantes who will tell him that he screwed up royally and that he has to have better thought-out positions when called upon.
Doc Vega

"leftist journalism propaganda…blinded objective reality…Ken Kesey's psychedelic bus…forays into self delusion…leftest and treasonous mass media….confiscated for Democratic vote buying….faulty social engineering…..deception of the Obama White House…..insulting those of us who still possess intelligence."

Surely there is an award out there we can give you for highest concentration of gratuitous name-calling in 300 words or less.