Sunday, February 17, 2013

The GOP Eats Its Own

Once Chick Hagel is finally confirmed as Secretary of Defense, he should think twice about accepting any lunch invitations from his former GOP colleagues. My fear is that he will become the meal. Yes, friends, the imploding tsunamic A-bomb that is the Republican Party is trying to claim another trophy for its sagging walls, but all they've done is drawn out a fight they've already given up on to a president they never get tired of losing to.

You would think that a decorated Vietnam veteran who served as a Senator would be a lock to be confirmed even in the polarized political world we live in. Apparently, though, his maverick denunciations of Bush era foreign policy including a spot-on critique of why, exactly, we were in Iraq has led the true maverick, John McCain, to sputter and croak about service and events like Benghazi that have nothing to do with Hagel. Then you have the reincarnation of Senator Joe McCarthy, Ted Cruz of Texas, who decided that disagreeing with Hagel was not enough and that he had to smear him by alleging that Hagel not only took money from Iran, but might have a problem with Israel's foreign and domestic policies.

I don't have to justify my support of Israel from a religious, cultural or moral perspective, but I have a real problem with the Netanyahu government's policies on settlements and their hypocritical support of the ultra-religious parties he needs to keep his coalition. Religious governments of any stripe are dangerous, discriminatory and extreme, and the Orthodox who want to impose strict Jewish law on Israel are no exception. For the conservative Christian right in this country to blindly support Israel because they would protect Christian historical shrines is self-serving, and brooking absolutely no dissent is dangerous in any group.

Chuck Hagel's questioning of Israel's policies is what any good Defense Secretary would do. It's what Hillary Clinton did as Secretary of State. Friends are always friends, but there are times when they can go too far. That's when true friends tell them the truth. It doesn't seem as if Netanyahu or the radical Republicans understand that message, and recent elections in Israel saw a backlash against Netanyahu. Israel must survive and I know that the United States government will do everything it can to ensure that. GOP questioning of Obama's and Hagel's motives is a red herring (in cream sauce).

Cruz's accusations against Hagel's patriotism relating to Iran was beyond the pale and rightly earned Cruz a back room scolding by both Republicans and Democrats. He defended himself by saying that he was elected to shake things up. That he did, but not in a way that will help him in the long run with his fellow Senators. I'm sure the Democrats will highlight this Tea Party behavior in 2014. John McCain's one-man Bengahzi crusade might satisfy his supporters, but it's only postponed the inevitable confirmation.

The next issue will be the sequester and the massive cuts that are on the way on March 1. Again, the GOP is ready to sink the economy in a misguided attempt to end programs that most Americans want and voted for in 2012. My hope is that President Obama will make an attempt at a pragmatic bargain to forestall the cuts, but if not, we know where the blame lies.

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