(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Even before President Barack Obama had nominated Chuck Hagel as his new Secretary of Defense, many Republicans were making it very clear that they would oppose Hagel’s appointment. Although Hagel served two terms as a Republican senator from Nebraska, his decision to join the Obama administration “severed his ties with the Republican Party,” as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) put it.
In the past, however, many of the very same Republicans who now hope to block Hagel’s nomination showered him with effusive praise. Here are five Republicans who were for Hagel — before they were against him:
After Obama nominated Hagel on Monday, Arizona senator John McCain released a statement warning, “I have serious concerns about positions Senator Hagel has taken on a range of critical national security issues in recent years, which we will fully consider in the course of his confirmation process before the Senate Armed Services Committee.”
In 2006, however, McCain referred to Hagel as “one of the two, three or four leading voices on national security and foreign policy in the Senate,” and said that — were McCain elected president — he would “be honored to have Chuck with me in any capacity.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is taking a “wait and see” approach to Hagel’s nomination, although on Sunday he cryptically warned that Hagel’s views on Israel, Iran, and “all the other positions that he’s taken over the years will be very much a matter of discussion in the confirmation process.”
Had that discussion happened in 2007, however, it would’ve been quite positive. Then, McConnell gushed “Chuck Hagel is one of the few genuine foreign policy experts in the Senate and an independent, serious voice on many of the most challenging issues we face,” adding that Hagel is “one of the premier foreign policy voices… in the United States Senate.”
Photo by Secretary of Defense/Flickr
South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham has been one of Hagel’s most outspoken critics since Obama nominated him, wailing over the weekend that Hagel “would be the most antagonistic secretary of defense toward the state of Israel in our nation’s history.”
Back in 2007, however, Graham described himself as close to Hagel, and praised the Nebraska senator for being “not worried about the political moment” when considering foreign policy.
(Photo by World Economic Forum/Flickr)
In a Tuesday afternoon appearance on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, Tennessee senator Bob Corker repeatedly stressed that “I do have concerns” about Hagel’s nomination, and darkly said “I don’t know” whether he would be confirmed.
When Hagel left the Senate in 2008, however, Corker praised his “tremendous independence,” and asserted that “we are all better having had the opportunity to serve” with him.
(Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
As the Hagel-to-the-Pentagon rumors heated up, neoconservative Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol penned a scathing op-ed claiming that Hagel “certainly does have anti-Israel, pro-appeasement-of-Iran bona fides,” and urging Senate Republicans “to embrace their role as Obama’s antithesis, and to block him.”
In the past, however, Kristol was such a strong Hagel supporter that he lobbied George W. Bush to pick Hagel as his running mate. In Kristol’s defense, however, he does not have a strong record when it comes to vetting vice-presidential candidates.