This week, an over-sedated Elmer Fudd showed up at the Senate claiming to be the president's nominee for secretary of defense, and even the kindliest interrogators on the committee couldn't prevent the poor chap shooting himself in the foot.Twenty minutes in, Chuck Hagel was all out of appendages.He warmed up with a little light "misspeaking" on Iran. "I support the president's strong position on containment," he declared. Breaking news!...
Unfortunately, as Hillary said the other day, "our policy is prevention, not containment." So five minutes later the handlers discreetly swung into action to "contain" Hagel. "I was just handed a note that I misspoke," he announced, "that I said I supported the president's position on containment. If I said that, I meant to say that we don't have a position on containment." Hagel's revised position is that there is no position on containment for him to have a position on.
Carl Levin, the Democrat chair, stepped in to contain further damage. "We do have a position on containment, and that is we do not favor containment," he clarified. "I just wanted to clarify the clarify."
Containment? Prevention? What difference does it make? Could happen to anyone. I well remember when Neville Chamberlain landed at Heston Aerodrome in 1938 and announced the latest breakthrough in appeasement: "I have here a piece of paper from Herr Hitler." Two minutes later, he announced, "I have here a second piece of paper from my staffer saying that I misspoke." Who can forget Churchill's stirring words in the House of Commons? "If, indeed, it is the case that I said, 'We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall never surrender!' then I misspoke. I meant to say that we're keeping the situation under review and remain committed to exploring all options."
It's easy to make mistakes when you're as expert in all the nuances of Iranian affairs as Chuck Hagel. After he'd hailed Iran's "elected, legitimate government," it fell to another Democrat, Kirsten Gillibrand, to prompt Hagel to walk it back. Okay, delete "elected" and "legitimate":
"What I meant to say, should have said, is that it's recognizable."
"Recognizable"? In the sense that, if you wake up one morning to a big mushroom cloud on the horizon, you'd recognize it as the work of the Iranian government? No, by "recognizable," he meant that the Iranian government is "recognized" as the government of Iran.
"I don't understand Iranian politics," he announced in perhaps his least misspoken statement of the day. But the Iranians understand ours, which is why, in an amusing touch, the foreign ministry in Tehran has enthusiastically endorsed Hagel.
Fortunately, Iran is entirely peripheral to global affairs — it's not like Chad or the Solomon Islands or the other burning questions the great powers are currently wrestling with — so it would be entirely unreasonable to expect Hagel to understand anything much about what's going on over there. So what of his other, non-Iranian interests?
"There are a lot of things I don't know about," said Hagel. "If confirmed, I intend to know a lot more than I do."
He then denied that "I will be running anything." Don't let the fact that the secretary of defense presides over 40 percent of the entire planet's military spending confuse you. He's not really "running" a thing — or, as he was anxious to assure us, "I won't be in a policy-making position."
Really? So what's the job for then? Just showing up at the office and the occasional black-tie NATO banquet? Most misspeakers loose off one round and then have to reload, but Chuck Hagel is a big scary "military-style assault weapon" of a misspeaker, effortlessly peppering the Senate wainscoting for hours on end. Late in the day, after five o'clock, he pronounced definitively: "It doesn't matter what I think."
"It does matter what you think," insisted New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte.
Friday, February 1, 2013
Mark Steyn Mocks Chuck Hagel
Mark Steyn at his best:
Seriously, Obama thinks Hagel is the best choice for SecDef? I think he has just proven himself to be unqualified to be Commander-in-Chief