After the wrenching fiscal cliff fight President Barack Obama isn't shying away from more confrontation with Congress. He's going ahead with the nomination of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary, Politico reports.
The former NE senator, a Republican, has drawn criticism from pro-Israel groups, gay rights organizations and several Democratic interest groups. And prominent Republicans have voiced strong opposition since Hagel's vetting for the job was reported five weeks ago.
Upon winning an open NE Senate seat in 1996 in his first bid for political office, Hagel voted a conservative line. But he veered left as he approached his second term. Though Hagel backed the 2002 Iraq war resolution he quickly became a leading critic of GOP President George W. Bush's policies there. National Review even dubbed the Hagel "Sen. Skeptic (R., France)".
Advocates for Israel have a variety of policy disagreements with Hagel, but one of their biggest concerns may be his frank and unflattering public assessments of their work and role in Washington.
"The political reality is ... that the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here," Hagel told former Mideast peace negotiator Aaron David Miller in a 2006 interview. "I have always argued against some of the dumb things they do because I don't think it's in the interest of Israel. I just don't think it's smart for Israel."
That quote hasn't been forgotten.
Susan Turnbull, a former Maryland Democratic Party chair and as deputy chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, who currently chairs Jewish Women International, wrote on Facebook, "Calling a group 'the Jewish lobby' is the equivalent of anti-semitism 2.0. His knee jerk views are often worrisome. Just my humble opinion.....sorry Mr. President - isn't there anyone else?"