Political Animal


January 14, 2013 12:41 PM Even Zealots Can Overreach

By Ed Kilgore

In her campaign to keep Chuck Hagel from becoming Secretary of Defense, WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin has heretofore stayed on the relatively strong ground of appealing to people in both parties who share her views about the Middle East (and the related issue of Israel’s position in the hierarchy of American foreign policy interests). Yeah, she has gone over-the-top in suggesting that the one-time (and explicitly regretted) utterance of the words “Jewish Lobby” by Hagel places him in the ranks of the world’s great anti-Semites. But by and large, she’s focused on the argument that those who believe in the “not an inch of space” argument for unconditional U.S. support for whatever Bibi Netanyahu wants, and in the related claim that Iran represents an existential threat to Israel (and thus an existential threat to America) shouldn’t let party loyalty or old senatorial relationships get in the way of opposing this nomination.

Fair enough. But now Rubin (perhaps growing desperate) is making a more plenary argument: Hagel is obviously one of the worst presidential nominees for a Cabinet position ever, so only servility or sloth could possibly justify his confirmation!

In her latest of many long posts on the subject, Rubin executes this change of perspective via a labored effort to establish that Chuck Hegel is a moral leper, a loose cannon, and an extremist far outside the mainstream of respectable thinking. To be sure, 99% of her bill of particulars on all three fronts come back to his alleged hatred of Israel and fondness for mullahs and terrorists. But the effort to identify Hagel with the kind of kookiness that both Republicans and Democrats tend to eschew in high-level appointments is summed up in this sentence:

The elected official who most resembles Hagel’s extreme voting record and views is now former congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.).

I must have missed the moment when Hagel embraced a general policy of non-intervention or denounced the United Nations as an anti-American conspiracy. Or more likely, in casting about for any weapon with which to batter his nominee, Rubin is showing that even zealots can overreach.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Mimikatz on January 14, 2013 12:57 PM:

    Please. No more Jennifer Rubin, no more Peggy Noonan. We have much bigger and more important problems.

  • c u n d gulag on January 14, 2013 1:00 PM:

    Rubin is flat out nuts!

    She must have some really explicit sexual photos of Fred Hiatt.

    I cause the tail end of her act today on UpChuck Todd's show.


    And, at the end, she wished her oldest son a happy 16th birthday.
    And I'm sittin' there, thinkin', boy, I bet there's ONE kid who can't wait to leave for college!!!
    Can you imagine the converstaions around her dinner table?
    "Not 'What'djou" do today,' son - it's 'What 'did you do today?' Not, 'd'jou!' 'DID YOU! GET IT!'"*

    *H/t to Woody Allen and Buddy Hackett!

  • Josef K on January 14, 2013 1:03 PM:

    The elected official who most resembles Hagelís extreme voting record and views is now former congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.).

    That feels more like damning Hagel with faint praise, given the following (in the same sense as used in the new series on FX) that has developed around Paul amongst thinking civil libertarians and hard-core movement conservatives.

  • Ron Byers on January 14, 2013 1:45 PM:

    The Hagel fight is not about Neo-Con reemergence or the Likud lobby's desire to control the American-Israeli relationship, it is all about the coming sequestration fight. Hagel is being nominated Secretary of Defense, not Secretary of State. His mission will be to shrink the Defense budget. From all accounts it is a mission he believes to be very important. The military industrial complex is trying to gain control over him or whoever is selected Defense Secretary.

  • jim filyaw on January 14, 2013 1:49 PM:

    no, rubin isn't nuts. she's a flat out uber-zionist who'd jump at the chance to sell out the united states if it would prove her israeli bona fides. read her (if you can stand being lied to from syllable one) and decide which country (and which interests) come first.

  • Robert from upstate on January 14, 2013 1:50 PM:

    There is apparently no one with whom Rubin has disagreed who she has not attacked as anti Semitic. And I agree with Mimikatz. Enough.

  • LAC on January 14, 2013 2:10 PM:

    Rubin is the queen of the overreach. I hope that those donkey sex show pix that she on Hiatt are worth having her stale coffee breath rantings and writings. Because after November 6th, a normal editor would have sent her behind packing.

  • Doug on January 14, 2013 3:42 PM:

    As Ron Byers noted, this is all about the MIC and the forthcoming reductions in the DoD budget. Hagel, and Lew, will be on the front lines of those reductions and apparently isn't in the MIC's debt, so they're determined to prevent his nomination. Rubin is just a bit more, um, "frenzied" about smearing him than some of her colleagues, that's all.