John McCain Rips Hagel in Senate Hearing, But Had Proposed Him For Secretary of Defense In 2000

McCain went on the attack against Hagel during his confirmation hearings for Secretary of Defense at the Senate Armed Services Committee, blasting him with a vigor Republicans generally reserve for communists and spree shooters.

After Hagel attempted to elaborate on his stance on the Iraq War surge beyond McCain's request for a flat-out "yes or no" answer, a visibily angered McCain said "that's a direct question, and I demand a direct answer."

Sen. McCain claimed that Hagel's views were in "fundamental" conflict with his own, and proceeded to attack Hagel's statement that he would need more information to evaluate what steps needed to be taken to control the Syrian civil war.

"How many more would have to die before you would support arming the resistance and establishing a no fly zone?" McCain asked.

These are pretty harsh putdowns. McCain was clearly against Hagel's nomination.

But during his 2000 presidential run, who did John McCain suggest would be an ideal secretary of defense?

"There's a lot of people that could do that," he told voters at a January town hall in New Hampshire. "One of 'em, I think, is Sen. Chuck Hagel."

Hagel's views have been consistent and clear throughout the entirety of his political career. Not much has changed since 2000, except their split over continuance of the Iraq war. So how can McCain consider Hagel's worldview "fundamentally" against his? 

If this was about Iraq, McCain would have said he cannot support Hagel's nomination solely due to that issue. But he went further and suggested Hagel was completely unacceptable on ideological grounds.

So is McCain's beef with Hagel, or does he just want to attack him because it will protect AIPAC's unchallenged influence in D.C. and look good on camera?

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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