Those who oppose former GOP Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel’s appointment as Secretary of Defense and want to avoid the whole anti-Semitism thing have come up with a whole new line of attack — he was mean to his staff when he was a senator. He couldn’t possibly have had more turnover than Michele Bachmann does, and yet I don’t recall these conservatives saying that was an impediment to her running for president.
Anyway, this is what those on the right who feel Hagel isn’t hawkish enough in terms of supporting Israel, going to war with Iran, and not cutting the defense budget are saying. From “Rejecting Chuck Hagel,” Adam Kredo, The Washington Free Beacon:
“‘But above all, he’s not a nice person and he’s bad to his staff,’ said a senior Republican Senate aid who has close ties to former Hagel staffers.
“‘Hagel was known for turning over staff every few weeks — within a year’s time he could have an entirely new office because nobody wanted to work for him,’ said the source. ‘You have to wonder how a man who couldn’t run a Senate office is going to be able to run an entire bureaucracy.’
“Others familiar with Hagel’s 12 year tenure in the Senate said he routinely intimidated staff and experienced frequent turnover.
“‘[H]e was the Cornhusker wears Prada to his staff, some of whom describe their former boss as perhaps the most paranoid and abusive in the Senate, one who would rifle through staffers’ desks and berate them for imagined disloyalty,’ said Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq.
“Multiple sources corroborated this view of Hagel.
“‘As a manager, he was angry, accusatory, petulant,’ said one source familiar with his work on Capitol Hill. ‘He couldn’t keep his staff.’
“‘I remember him accusing one of his staffers of being ‘f___ing stupid’ to his face,’ recalled the source who added that Hagel typically surrounded himself with those ‘who basically hate Republicans.'”
Come on, when has the choice of a Secretary of Defense ever turned on whether he was “nice”? All these folks in Congress have huge egos and tend to be screamers who are extremely hard on staff. The soft-spoken, considerate boss is the exception, not the rule.
If we want to fight about Hagel’s appointment, let’s do it on his views, on policy. Let’s have that serious fight, not a preposterous middle-school one.