Monday, 7 January 2013

On the other hand, sleazy Hagel is actually a good choice

While the naming of Brennan to the CIA is yet another sign of moral bankruptcy, [see below], the nomination of ‘Chuck’ Hagel to be secretary of defense is a rare and welcome sign of the U.S. government putting its own interests ahead of the state of Israel’s. The ensuing howls of inflamed outrage emanating from all sorts of neocon, settler zionist, and Israel-firster enclaves is deafening. We’ll see if the Obama camp displays uncharacteristic firmness and gets it way. I’m not optimistic.

Hagel is known to be cautious about going off to war in foreign lands based on a vague faith in the rightness of American arms and aims, and that is a remarkably unpopular position in Washington these days despite the sorry debacles resulting from the last two outings in Iraq and Afghanistan. You’d think that having lied to the American people about Saddam Hussein’s weapons and bankrupted us in that endeavor and the incompetent non-peace that followed that someone, somewhere inside the Beltway would be hesitant to go out about repeat it all once again. Hagel, unusually, apparently is just this personage. As many are pointing out, he actually knows what war is like having participated in it, unlike the war-eager chickenhawks slipping in and out of D.C.’s dark corridors like conspiratorial prelates haunting Vatican alleys.

It’s not germane to the present discussion, but just because Hagel is not a warmongering asshole, doesn’t mean he carries no dubious baggage: in fact, he carries along a strong whiff of electoral fraud. He had a long-time interest in a company that made electronic voting machines that are easily hacked and manipulated and won his first Nebraska Senate seat with an unusually hefty margin against a popular former governor.

Hagel hid his links to the company until reporters cornered him and pointed out the impropriety of having one candidate in a race owning a major stake in the company counting the ballots. Nonetheless, Hagel swept to victory by 15 percentage points after all the polls showed him running neck-and-neck against his opponent. (Maybe the polls were done by Rasmussen.)

As Robert Caro has taught us at encyclopedic length with reference to LBJ, people who gain public office through fraud sometimes do decent things once they get there. And it’s hardly a new phenomenon in our history either. But it kind of undermines the whole idea of elections if it doesn’t really matter where you put your X.

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