Sen. Claire McCaskill faced off with Dan Senor this morning over the confirmation of former Sen. Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, where she shot down Senor’s concerns that Hagel was pro-Iran and anti-Israel.
McCaskill said it’s mostly extremists who are protesting Hagel’s nominations.
“None of the big organizations that advocate for Israel on Capitol Hill are opposing Chuck Hagel. It’s only the extreme groups that have come out strongly against his nomination,” she said. “I’ve had a chance to visit him personally and I am certainly reassured that he understand the importance of our alliance with Israel. I hope that most of the Senate gives him a fair chance, because if they do, I think he’ll be confirmed easily.”
Senor countered that many Israel advocacy organizations have come out against Hagel’s nomination.
“The American Jewish committee have come out with deep concerns, the Anti-Defamation League, Simon Wiesenthal Center, even the National Jewish Democratic Council [all have concerns on Hagel’s nomination],” he said.
McCaskill fired back against Senor.
“You and I both know that if Chuck Hagel presented a threat to Israel, AIPAC would be swarming over the Hill. There would be many others organizations that would be swarming over the hill. You wouldn’t have Chuck Schumer coming out as strongly as he has for Chuck Hagel. These are in fact, the extreme group in this advocacy area.”
Senor retorted angrily: "Do you think when Chuck Hagel said Israel keeps Palestine caged up like animals, when Chuck Hagel is one of two senators to vote against sanctions against Iran, when he’s fewer than a dozen senators who opposed labeling Hezbollah a terrorist group, you think that someone like me has concerns about that? You think that's extreme?"
McCaskill said Hagel's record stands for itself, in wide context.
"I don’t have a problem with concerns, but I don’t think they are putting those positions or votes in context of his entire record. Let’s look at his record: an enlisted man who really knows what war is like. Unlike many in this job, he will be the first enlisted man ever to hold this position at the Department of Defense. Someone who understands how congress works, which is a very important skill set for the secretary of defense. Someone who has served on the armed services committee, and gets how this process should work in terms of checks and balances. He’s got an awful lot to offer. If you take his whole record in context, he was a conservative republican from Nebraska for god’s sake!"