The Hagel hearing, Part Five (Sen. Graham takes Hagel to the woodshed)

Now it’s Lindsey Graham time. Are will still at war, Graham wants to know. After some stammering, Hagel says “Yes.”

Graham’s next question is “name one person in Congress who has been intimidated by the Jewish lobby.” Hagel can’t do it (or won’t).

Now Graham wants Hagel to name one dumb thing Congress has done in response to pressure from the Israeli lobby. Hagel can’t do it (or, actually, won’t).

Graham wants to know why Hagel was one of 12 Senators who didn’t sign a letter affirming Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Hagel says that Senators shouldn’t sign these kinds of letters — it infringes on the president’s prerogative. But then, why did Hagel sign a letter denouncing the treatment of Jews by the Russians? Hagel can’t answer, at least not coherently.

Graham asks if Hagel would vote today against designating the IRG a terrorist organiztion. Hagel hems and haws. Then he says he would, at least, reconsider the matter, since “times change.”

Now Graham is asking about a letter Hagel refused to sign denouncing the intifada. He wants to know if Graham will admit that not signing this letter was a mistake. Hagel says he will look at the letter and answer later.

It be a letter that Hagel clearly should have signed because liberal Sen. Blumenthal, who follows Graham in the questioning, tells Hagel he hopes Hagel will now say he should have signed it.

* * * * * * *

I’ve had all the fun I can stand with this hearing for now. Perhaps I’ll resume my coverage at some point in the second round of questioning.

From what I’ve seen so far today, it looks like Hagel will win more than 50 votes from the Democrats, and quite possibly all 55 Democratic votes. As for Republicans, I don’t believe he’s done well enough today to win many over. He succeeded in enraging John McCain (not the most difficult thing to do) and Lindsey Graham was upset with Hagel from the get-go. Of those Republicans who have questioned Hagel so far, it seems to me that he has “charmed” nary a one.

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