Monday, January 7, 2013

Obama taps Hagel with combative speech– following outreach to AIPAC

link via mondoWeiss
Update: President Obama just nominated former Senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. Obama's speech was combative. It emphasized Hagel's military service, his injuries in Vietnam, and said that Hagel was his choice because he could work with those on the ground, "the guy at the bottom, who's doing the fighting and the dying." Obama repeatedly struck an assertive tone as if daring neoconservative chicken hawks to criticize Hagel. Hagel said as little as was possible...
The media are all reporting that President Obama has chosen Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. Update: From ABC:
Obama will nominate former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense at a formal White House announcement later today, administration officials said. 
The media are generally lukewarm on the pick; Martha Raddatz and George Stephanopoulos agree there's no guarantee the nomination will be approved, many predict a battle from Republicans. The good news is that the Israel angle is getting a lot of play, even if the reporters aren't being very straightforward about the lobby's role. Though Slate's Fred Kaplan is very straightforward: Criticism of Israel is the third rail in our foreign policy.
And notice thoughout the coverage that the White House and its friends are pushing back, saying that Hagel loves Israel. The White House preempted AIPAC's potential opposition by lobbying it, according to Jeffrey Goldberg on twitter:
Sources tell me White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew called AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr last week to argue case for Chuck Hagel. White House lobbying of AIPAC may explain why group is not going great guns so far against Hagel nomination.

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