All this hoopla about the Department of Justice improperly obtaining two months of AP telephone records seems to me just as phony as Claude Rains' "I'm shocked, shocked" when he "discovers" gambling at Rick's Café in Cassablanca.
Chuck Hagel is a valued friend. As a result, it was profoundly disturbing to me and members of my community when some of his opponents attempted to make his appearances before Arab Americans an issue in his confirmation process.
Consider what the Senate, which once dubbed itself "the world's greatest deliberative body," and a news media, which has greater access to information than at any time in history, didn't deal with just in the last few days of the anti-Hagel filibuster.
Hagel is a great patriot, a good man, a man committed to public service, a man of integrity. He understands the military by definition -- if for no other reason than that he served, bravely facing Vietnamese bullets. He has the confidence of the president of the United States. 'Nuff said.
Was Chuck Hagel's Senate Armed Services Committee appearance just another scene in the comic tragedy that has become American foreign policy -- and, frankly, our public discourse generally? In this case, there surely was more reason for crying than for laughing.
What I found most troubling (other than McCain's behavior) was Hagel's failure to defend himself. Why not say that he was right, because the war was based on a lie, and because nothing done in that war ultimately accomplished anything of lasting value?
While it's probably not a saying the president uses, Hagel is his choice, come hell or high water. Obama's getting more than a little of both in the bargain. He's going to get Hagel, too. But not thanks to Hagel's public performance skills.
The defense budget should be cut. But when it comes to taking on the defense establishment, President Obama has been timid. He needs someone to take the lead for him, a decorated military veteran with perspective. Chuck Hagel fits the bill to be Obama's hatchet man.
Hagel's opponents are trying to accomplish through these hearings and through their rants against Mr. Hagel what they could not accomplish through the presidential election -- to devalue Mr. Obama and his posture on foreign policy.
All the money spent by the Sheldon Adelsons of the world, to sink this nomination, is a colossal waste. Chuck Hagel will be confirmed, and neoconservative influence over our military policy will finally, and thankfully, be dead.
Military action must be the last, rather than the primary, tool of foreign policy. While Chuck Hagel knows this, he also knows that the nation's military must be ready and able to deliver overwhelming force when required.