Chuck Hagel did not exactly hit it out of the park in his hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
He stumbled on Iraq, Iran, and the “Jewish lobby” comment.
Supposedly, he did three mock hearings in preparation, but given that everybody knew what was going to come up, he wasn’t as sharp and well-prepared as he should have been. The surprise wasn’t any particular question that caused him to stumble, but the fact that he stumbled.
What what me cringe most was when he said he supported Obama’s policy of “containment” of Iran. It took a passed note to get him to correct that. Our policy on Iran’s getting nuclear weapons is not containment, but prevention.
John McCain got the better of him when Hagel didn’t defend his opposition to the Iraq surge forcefully enough. Lindsey “Butters” Graham got him to say he couldn’t/wouldn’t name a senator who had been “intimidated” by the “Jewish lobby” or to name a “stupid thing” Congress had done on Israel as a result of such intimidation.
I don’t think it was a fatal performance, but it certainly was a disappointing one. Peter Beinart tweeted that it reminded him of the first Obama-Romney debate. Yup.