Shorter Question Everything
McCain’s questioning of Chuck Hagel continues to reveal him as a bitter, angry old man, lashing out at the people he believes have kept him from the presidency. Hagel had previously been McCain’s choice for the position for Sect. of Defense, at least until Hagel disagreed with him. And agreed with Pres. Obama. McCain is unable to let that go, despite that fact that it was McCain that was proven wrong on Iraq. The whole line of Questioning from McCain seemed more about McCain needing to force Hagel to not simply say that he was wrong, but to massage McCain’s ego by declaring him right. Hagel’s answer was an honest, and diplomatic one, stating that history will be the judge. Which it has done. McCain hasn’t come out well on that score.
• For McCain, Hagel opposition a proxy war with history.
• Former Senate colleagues and decorated Vietnam War veterans Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and John McCain, R-Ariz., squared off Thursday over Hagel’s past statements on the Iraq War, as Hagel fielded questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee in a confirmation hearing to become the next secretary of defense. McCain charged at Hagel’s opposition to the 2007 troop surge in Iraq, which McCain strongly supported and points to as a major turning point in the war. He pressed the former Nebraska senator, “Were you right? Were you correct in your assessment?” Hagel rebutted, “I would defer to the judgment of history to sort that out.”
• On McCain: McCain now seems eager to have a conversation about who has credibility on Bush-era wars, even with the benefit of hindsight. It’s one of the more profound examples in recent memory of a politician lacking in self-awareness. Indeed, as of this morning, McCain actually seems to believe it’s worse to get the surge question wrong than to get the entire war wrong. “I want to know if you were right or wrong,” McCain said. You first, senator.
[McCain] made every wrong judgment call that could be made after 9/11. It’s not just that he echoed the Bush administration’s constant innuendos that Iraq collaborated with Al Qaeda’s attack on America. Or that he hyped the faulty W.M.D. evidence to the hysterical extreme of fingering Iraq for the anthrax attacks in Washington. Or that he promised we would win the Iraq war “easily.” Or that he predicted that the Sunnis and the Shiites would “probably get along” in post-Saddam Iraq because there was “not a history of clashes” between them.
What’s more mortifying still is that McCain was just as wrong about Afghanistan and Pakistan. He routinely minimized or dismissed the growing threats in both countries over the past six years, lest they draw American resources away from his pet crusade in Iraq.
Two years after 9/11 he was claiming that we could “in the long term” somehow “muddle through” in Afghanistan. (He now has the chutzpah to accuse President Obama of wanting to “muddle through” there.) Even after the insurgency accelerated in Afghanistan in 2005, McCain was still bragging about the “remarkable success” of that prematurely abandoned war. In 2007, some 15 months after the Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf signed a phony “truce” ceding territory on the Afghanistan border to terrorists, McCain gave Musharraf a thumb’s up. As a presidential candidate in the summer of 2008, McCain cared so little about Afghanistan it didn’t even merit a mention among the national security planks on his campaign Web site.
He takes no responsibility for any of this.
• HAGEL: “I think it’s always wise to try to talk to people before you get into war.” No wonder the Republicans hate him.
• Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced an a/v element to today’s hearing, hoping to smear Chuck Hagel with a 2009 clip from a call-in talk show on Al Jazeera. The problem: Cruz and his staff appear to have edited the clip to take Hagel wildly out of context.
Other Senate hearings
• Why Was An Anti-Feminist Organization Using Senate Time to Sell Guns: Gayle Trotter’s little marketing push trying to get women to buy more guns—remember, the underlying principle of all gun proponent testimony is that gun profits should always be growing—was definitely an amusing one, as noted by Mother Jones. Women buy far fewer guns than men, so while this was supposed to be a Senate hearing, a large portion of it was Trotter using this free advertising opportunity to try to capture a new customer base that the gun industry struggles to reach. I debunked her nonsense at Slate, but it got me to thinking. What does the anti-feminist group Independent Women’s Forum that Trotter was representing get out of giving the gun industry free, if unhinged advertising like this?
• Joe Scarborough has a message for those who are defending assault weapons, “If you go out and try to defend assault weapons, then you end up looking like a jackass.”
• Canadian consular officials have intervened twice to defend Alberta’s oilsands at municipal meetings in the U.S. state of Maine in the last eight days.
• A Halifax navy intelligence officer convicted of espionage was paid nearly $72,000 for selling secrets to the Russians, the Crown said as a two-day sentencing hearing for Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle got underway Thursday. Lyne Decarie told the provincial court that Delisle received 23 payments totalling $71,817 from 2007 until 2011 for his services.
• Everyone knows that Justin Trudeau is the front runner in the federal Liberal leadership race. But Trudeau’s latest fundraising numbers — in comparison to the 8 other candidates —are simply staggering. According Punditsguide.ca, all 9 candidates have collectively raised about $1.15 million; Trudeau has raised $673,156.53 or 58.4 per cent of the total money. (Incidentally, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair raised $443,357 during that party’s leadership race which ended last March).
In other news
• American officials have now confirmed that Israel did in fact launch an airstrike within Syria. A charge Syria made previously but Israel would not confirm. The now confirmed airstrike could cause an expansion of the Civil War in Syria to other countries in the Middle East igniting a larger conflict in the region. Syria and Iran are now threatening to retaliate for the airstrike.
• A citizen’s group called Respect Arizona filed paperwork at the Maricopa County Elections Department on Wednesday to initiate a recall effort against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The group would need to gather 335,317 signatures by May 30 of this year in order for the county to call a special election for the sheriff’s office.