We often bemoan the fact that those in Washington who get it wrong never seem to be held accountable, and those who get it right (even if not right away) always seem to be marginalized. Well, President Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense is how the system should -- but seldom does -- work. I'm not saying Chuck Hagel is perfect or that I agree with every position he's ever taken, but leadership isn't about conforming to a checklist. Hagel is being nominated for a particular job, and for that job, he has a strong record. And this is exactly why his critics are grasping for straws -- from questions about his "temperament" to the insinuation that he is an anti-Semite -- because they don't want to discuss that record, nor what this debate is really about: the Iraq War.
This was the week of the Big Snub. In Hollywood, Oscar voters turned their backs on Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow, long considered locks for a Best Director nomination for their work on Argo and Zero Dark Thirty respectively. In Cooperstown, steroid era superstars Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa were snubbed for the Baseball Hall of Fame -- along with the entire rest of the eligible field. The question now is, will snub fever make its way to Washington? Will Chuck Hagel, and the fresh ideas he'd bring to the Pentagon, be snubbed? How about the gun proposals Joe Biden will be announcing on Tuesday? And will Jack Lew, President Obama's pick for Treasury Secretary, continue that department's long tradition of snubbing Main Street in favor of Wall Street? It's a reminder that what is rejected is often more important than what it selected. Especially in Hollywood and D.C.
What is at stake for Republicans is far more than just Israel and Iran. It is the entire neo-conservative enterprise that led the U.S. into two failed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (which they cannot admit were failures) and has them still advocating for more aggressive military engagements in Syria and Iran.