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In trying to sink Hagel, GOP takes aim at Obama

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 16, 2013 at 3:08 am •  Published: February 16, 2013
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Q: Are there more substantive reasons for Republicans' opposition to Hagel?

A: Yes. They start with an assertion that Hagel is insufficiently supportive of Israel and unreasonably sympathetic to Iran. And Republicans dislike Hagel's association with an international movement called Global Zero, which advocates for sharp reductions in the number of U.S. nuclear weapons and an eventual elimination of them worldwide. McCain has hammered Hagel for "a disqualifying lack of professional judgment."

Hagel and the White House insist he is well qualified, in part on the basis of his experience in the Senate, his work in the private sector, and his record as a decorated Vietnam combat veteran. "For the sake of national security, it's time to stop playing politics with our Department of Defense, and to move beyond the distractions and delay," the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, said after Thursday's Senate action.

Q: Will Hagel ever be confirmed?

A: Unless new obstacles emerge, it appears that Hagel will win confirmation when the Senate returns from recess the week of Feb. 25. McCain and others who sought to prolong the Senate debate this week have said they will be ready to vote to permit an up-or-down vote when the Senate reconvenes. It likely will be a mostly party-line vote, unlike those of recent defense secretaries. Panetta, the outgoing Pentagon chief, for example, was approved 100-0.

On Friday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama remains confident that Hagel will eventually be confirmed.

"I wouldn't be surprised if there are additional politics that are injected into this circumstance. It is extremely unfortunate," Earnest said.

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Robert Burns can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/robertburnsAP