Sam Nunn, Max Cleland in Chuck Hagel’s corner; Chambliss appears skeptical

WASHINGTON – The supporting cast for Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel has a notable Georgia twang.

Behind the scenes, former Georgia Democratic U.S. Sen. Max Cleland is working to build support for his fellow Vietnam War veteran and former Senate colleague. Cleland, who lost his seat in 2002 to Saxby Chambliss, was in the front row for Thursday morning’s confirmation hearing before the Armed Services Committee but declined to comment as Hagel’s nomination is still pending.

Seated next to Hagel was former Georgia Democratic U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, who once chaired the committee. Nunn and former Armed Services chair John Warner, a Virginia Republican, introduced Hagel and lent bipartisan and powerful backing for the nominee. Senators tend to respect powerful former senators.

Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, has been a controversial pick on the left and the right – his alleged sins include insufficient backing of Israel and insensitivity toward gays. The committee’s top Republican, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, used his opening statement to declare that he will not vote for Hagel.

That made the most important word in Nunn’s nine-minute speech “mainstream.”

“From our service together on the Defense Policy Board, I know that Chuck has a very clear worldview, and that it aligns with the mainstream of U.S. foreign and defense policy,” Nunn said. “Chuck Hagel believes that we must build and preserve American strength as a force for good in the world. He realizes that protecting our interests requires strong allies and friends and strong American leadership.”

Nunn spoke extensively about his chief Senate legacy and post-Senate occupation, nuclear proliferation. He called Hagel a “balanced and responsible voice on nuclear weapons policy.” Then Nunn added a quote from a GOP favorite: “President Reagan said it often and said it well – a nuclear war cannot be won, and must not be fought.”

Combined with Chambliss, who serves on on the committee, there were about 40 years of Senatorial service to Georgia in the hearing room this morning.

Update: 12:08 p.m.

Chambliss appeared skeptical of Hagel, noting their friendship on the Senate Intelligence Committee as Republican colleagues but saying “you cast some votes I questioned.”

One of those votes was against designating the Iran Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. It was a controversial 2007 vote that cleared the Senate without Hagel’s support – among 22 Democrats and Republicans, including now-President Barack Obama and now-Secretary of State John Kerry.

Hagel said calling an official arm of a United Nations country a terrorist organization was unprecedented and he felt it would also have authorized President George W. Bush to attack Iran.

More broadly, Chambliss wanted to explore Hagel’s views on Iran, which are controversial among Republicans. He read passages from Hagel’s book in which the former senator signaled more willingness for diplomacy than force.

“If your position is truly prevention and not containment [of a nuclear Iran], what is the red line?” Chambliss asked. “We know there are some things happening right now that are serious, so how far do we go? Do you still advocate direct negotiations with Iran?”

Hagel said he did not want to publicly discuss “red lines,” and that he would defer to the president on that subject. On engaging diplomatically with Iran, Hagel said:

“I think we’re always on higher ground in every way – international law, domestic law, people in the world, people in region to be with us on this if we’ve tried and we’ve gone through every possibility to resolve this in a responsible peaceful way rather than going to war.”

- By Daniel Malloy, Political Insider

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68 comments Add your comment

Marlboro Man

January 31st, 2013
11:06 am

To the winner, the spoils.

CC

January 31st, 2013
11:26 am

“Sam Nunn, Max Cleland in Chuck Hagel’s corner”

Fine and dandy! I’m a nobody, but I’m definitely NOT in Hagel’s corner.

Hagel is not particularly a supporter of Israel and he is soft on Iran’s quest to obtain nuclear weapons. These two facts alone are enough for me to oppose his appointment.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 31st, 2013
11:29 am

And so begins the disarmament of America…….from within -

Hagel served on the Global Zero U.S. Nuclear Policy Commission which issued a report last May calling for an 80 percent reduction in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Naivety is not good policy.

CC

January 31st, 2013
11:30 am

liberalefty suffers from diarrhea of the keyboard, and his posts closely resemble the product of that affliction.

curious

January 31st, 2013
11:43 am

looks like liberallefties prediction will come true.

Michael

January 31st, 2013
12:02 pm

How dare Mr Hagel put the interests of the United States above those of Israel. For shame!

Retired Soldier

January 31st, 2013
12:12 pm

MM-

Then I assume you feel that way about the Georgia state government?

GaBlue

January 31st, 2013
12:24 pm

Last time I checked, I neither live in, nor pay taxes to, the nation of Israel, although plenty of my tax money is shipped there instead of being spent here to repair crumbling roads and bridges, or build schools and hospitals, employing Americans along the way. Our defense budget is greater than the next 13 countries combined, and yet private citizens (most of whom wouldn’t cut a dime of the defense budget if it were up to them) are still SO chicken poo scared of their own shadows that they have to amass personal arsenals just in case the monster they gladly feed decides to turn on them one day.

I welcome a common-sense approach to our Defense Department — for a change. Thinking of Americans and our soldiers first. How refreshing!

Romney lost

January 31st, 2013
12:24 pm

“liberalefty suffers from diarrhea of the keyboard, and his posts closely resemble the product of that affliction.”

This from a blogger who is known as Coward of the County…. CC

bwhahahahahahahah

Retired Soldier

January 31st, 2013
12:30 pm

GaBlue-

Defense and international relations are a purview of the federal government. Certainly you have every right to be critical of how the federal government handles those two aspects of the federal government. (has it gotten better under Obama?)

Now to the crumbling roads, bridges, schools and hospitals, where in the constitution is that a federal responsibilty? Not saying that isn’t a need, but it should be done by the state and local governments.

GaBlue

January 31st, 2013
12:37 pm

Retired Soldier,

I agree that our foreign relations are important, but I think we spend far too much money and blood meddling in affairs we cannot reasonably affect. If our well-being were left entirely to the State government of Georgia, we’d be in a full-on feudal system w/in ten years. No thanks. I’m a practical person.

MiltonMan

January 31st, 2013
12:42 pm

Sam Nunn = the only “recent” democrat worth a crap from this state in a long, long time. We are left with idiots like Hank Johnson, John Lewis, etc., etc.

And people wonder why this state is red???

Just Saying..

January 31st, 2013
12:47 pm

Hagel will be confirmed.

The GOP will be remembered for attacking a wounded US veteran cited for valor in battle.
Further identifying the hypocrisy between the Party’s words and deeds.
And causing Independents to shake their heads in wonder…

Hopper

January 31st, 2013
12:49 pm

BaBlue, well put observations. By no standard except that of politicians completely subservient to foreign interests, could Hagel be called anti-Israel. His policy positions — once divorced from partisanship — speak to a reasoned approach that looks to American interests over others. That seems to me a very good thing.

Retired Soldier

January 31st, 2013
12:57 pm

GaBlue-

The Constitution spells out which government is responsible for which part of our well being. A major reason we are 16.5 trillion in debt and running a 1.2 trillion deficit annually is because the federal government is involved in areas they are not supposed to be.

Is it easier to defeat an incumbent congressman/senator or a state rep or state senator. The obvious answer is the later. If state or local officals don’t do the job, replace them.

Retired Soldier

January 31st, 2013
1:00 pm

Just saying-

So anyone wounded in battle or cited for valor gets a pass to the highest offices in America? Really? Good for Hagel and his service, but that doesn’t entitle him to anything, as it wouldn’t if he was a conservative.

Auntie Christ

January 31st, 2013
1:32 pm

Retired Soldier
January 31st, 2013
1:00 pm

So anyone wounded in battle or cited for valor gets a pass to the highest offices in America?
*******************************************
It’s certainly worked well for the incompetent, unqualified john mccain, who with george bush, had they not been the sons and grandsons of influential, powerful men would be working in fields they are qualified for, such as driving trucks or greeting us a Walmart. mccain is grilling Chuck Hagel over whether “the surge worked,” which for some reason is an obsession with mccain, probably because it is the only time in his life he was right about anything. But even at that the surge ‘worked’ because Petraeus literally took pallets of money to pay off the Iraqui warlords, to stop the attacks on our military. Who cares if the surge ‘worked’ or didn’t, these fools on the right will never admit or probably don’t even realize, that their misbegotten war hasn’t worked, at least to no one’s favor except our enemies. mccain is in his dotage, and it is frightening to think that this senile old fool, not just a has-been, but actually a never-was, has influence over decisions of vital importance for our country. It will be a great day for America when he and his girl friend lindsay retire to their love nest in Sun City, and leave important matters to people who are competent to handle them.

Just Saying..

January 31st, 2013
1:40 pm

Retired Soldier: “So anyone wounded in battle or cited for valor gets a pass to the highest offices in America? Really? Good for Hagel and his service, but that doesn’t entitle him to anything, as it wouldn’t if he was a conservative.”

I do give weight to anyone who’s done battle at ground level in a US uniform. But that’s not the comment I’m making here. I’m pointing out what I think will be the outcome, and the perception that the Republican Party will be left with. Which I believe will do the Party no favors.

And by the way, if “…that doesn’t entitle him to anything, as it wouldn’t if he was a conservative.”
was really true, that would be a hard case to make, given the comments and support shown Allen West in 2012.

Retired Soldier

January 31st, 2013
1:47 pm

AC-

John McCain? What cabinet position has he been nominated for? Whether McCain is asking important questions or not has nothing with what I commented on. That is the statement that Hagel should be given a pass because of his wounds and valor. SECDEF is far to imortant a position for anyone to be given a “pass”.

Retired Soldier

January 31st, 2013
1:49 pm

Just saying-

We are talking about cabinet nominations, West was a one term congressman. Apples and oranges.

Just Saying..

January 31st, 2013
1:58 pm

“We are talking about cabinet nominations…”

Perhaps you are.
I’m not. I’m talking about US politics, 1 Qtr, 2013. Dems are winning, GOP, esp Cons, are losing.
And they won’t stop digging…

john hayes

January 31st, 2013
2:04 pm

Saxby questioning Hagel on anything militarily is disgraceful. While Hagel was patrolling jungles, sloshing through rice paddies, and earning purple hearts in the Nam, Sissy Saxby was dodging the draft, dating sorority girls, and nursing his “bum” knee. His “bum” knee never kept him from a round of golf, however. Having served in the military doesn’t allow a person to corner the market on the subject (it does allow one a better view) but Saxby having never served should have simply deferred at the hearing. Saxby, in my opinion, is nothing more than a government parasite and a gutless coward. John Hayes 82nd Airborne Division (Ret.)

Retired Soldier

January 31st, 2013
2:07 pm

THen we will agree to disagree. Hagel should be vetted like any other nominee. The difference is he has a voting record that has to be answered for.

Just Saying..

January 31st, 2013
2:08 pm

“Having served in the military doesn’t allow a person to corner the market on the subject (it does allow one a better view)…”

Exactly.
And back at you on the 82nd. 3rd Bde, ‘68-’69.

Retired Soldier

January 31st, 2013
2:10 pm

John Hayes-

Does that apply to Obama too? What about Clinton? There are plenty on both sides that never served. Maybe you should advocate universial service. Now that the President thinks women should be in the infantry universial means men and women. Then you would never have this complaint again.

Retired Soldier

January 31st, 2013
2:12 pm

Just saying-

Disagree with your point, but appreciate your service. Sick, lame and lazy and airborne crazy.

Just Saying..

January 31st, 2013
2:13 pm

“Maybe you should advocate universial service.”

Great idea. All for it.

Retired Soldier

January 31st, 2013
2:14 pm

Just-

You would be a loner in the democratic party.

Just Saying..

January 31st, 2013
2:19 pm

“You would be a loner in the democratic party.”

Er, check Charlie Rangel (I know, I know) on the issue, just this week. A long held position of his. Which he’s done no favors with his conduct in office…

john hayes

January 31st, 2013
2:20 pm

Retired soldier. The draft was as crooked as Saxby. Make it fair. No deferments. A job for everyone. Garrison Troopers serve too. But if having heard the sound of enemy bullets and having seen your own blood on the field of battle doesn’t earn a more respected seat at the table then,respectfully, retired soldier, I’m pleased we didn’t serve together. John Hayes “ALL THE WAY”

curious

January 31st, 2013
2:21 pm

Universal service.

I’ll vote for that.

Our war will be over in about 2 weeks.

Retired Soldier

January 31st, 2013
2:24 pm

True, but does Rangel count?

Jon Lester

January 31st, 2013
2:26 pm

Those of you who care so much about “cutting spending” and “eliminating government waste” should be all for reducing our nuclear arsenal by 80 percent, because there’s no realistic scenario under which we would possibly use the remaining 20 percent.

Retired Soldier

January 31st, 2013
2:38 pm

Jon-

All for reducing anything that isn’t needed. Not sure how you came up with 80%, but if the military guys agree, than do it.

Retired Soldier

January 31st, 2013
2:43 pm

Jihn Hayes- NP there. I never said Hagel shouldn’t be respected. I said his military service doesn’t give him a pass from answering the hard questions. While I too served and was in the Gulf War at the battalion level, I did not leave blood on the battlefield (my own).

Whether you would have wanted to serve with me or not is not material. I am very comfortable that those who served under me, with me and above me would say they would gladly do so again. That is plenty enough reward for me.

Posted by Order of H. E. the Margrave of Azilia

January 31st, 2013
2:45 pm

You can put me down as another liberal in the support of universal service. It’s the only way that I can see to bring some sanity to our foreign policy.

Eli

January 31st, 2013
2:56 pm

Retired Soldier: “Now to the crumbling roads, bridges, schools and hospitals, where in the constitution is that a federal responsibilty? Not saying that isn’t a need, but it should be done by the state and local governments.”

Good question. Read the Preamble. All of those things fall in that purview. It should be done by states and local governments…but when they fail to do so and the demand continues to exist the federal government steps in (usually) at the request of individual members of Congress in the form of pork (and formerly earmarks). The story of that last 50 years has been one in which state and local governments neglect their responsibilities and the federal government picks up the slack.

Marlboro Man

January 31st, 2013
3:03 pm

The are wasting time, the man is in and the questions make the senators look foolish.

GA polical leaders are failing the state, in nearly every category other than corporate wellfare. Chip Rodgers is a great example of what a crook can aspire to.

A

January 31st, 2013
3:13 pm

Max Cleland for U.S. Senate!! Let’s help him get back the seat that Chambliss stole from him.

Retired Soldier

January 31st, 2013
3:18 pm

Eli-

The preamble does not specify the division of duties between the federal government and the states.
Just because Congress has done what it shouldn’t be doing doesn’t make it right. Like I said, it is a major reason why we have such a large debt and deficit.

When a state or local government fails to do what it should do you replace the politicans. That is what elections are for.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 31st, 2013
3:19 pm

hagel’s making biden look rhetorically sure-footed

— Peter Beinart (@PeterBeinart) January 31, 2013

this hearing is beginning to remind me of the 1st Obama-Romney debate

— Peter Beinart (@PeterBeinart) January 31, 2013

This Hagel hearing is a disaster.

— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) January 31, 2013

Retired Soldier

January 31st, 2013
3:21 pm

A-

Please inform us of illegal acts that were committed and by whom to better judge the election was stolen.

Now if you mean falsehoods, then we need to have Obama resign, remember the one about Romney was responsible for the death of a woman.

Buckhead Boy

January 31st, 2013
3:21 pm

Frankly, I would be relieved to see gone most of the 2,000 nuclear warheads deteriorating around Georgia, including the hydrogen bomb that the Air Force lost in the Wassaw Sound fifty-five years ago. Next to New Mexico, Georgia is “ground zero” for blowing ourselves up.

Retired Soldier

January 31st, 2013
3:24 pm

MM-

“To the winner, the spoils”. My comment referred to that, if that is good at the federal level then you ought to like it at the state level.

GUTRAKE

January 31st, 2013
3:53 pm

Your headlines tell me all I need to know. Your slant is so predictable I don’t even need to read the story…

Cherokee

January 31st, 2013
4:19 pm

“Just because Congress has done what it shouldn’t be doing doesn’t make it right”

Soldier, the Congress is given the responsiblity of making decisions for the general welfare of the country. I think you could make a pretty strong case that roads and bridges and ports would be included in that.

And by the way, this Dem believes in universal service also.

curious

January 31st, 2013
4:27 pm

Eisenhower thought good infrastructure was good for the country. What is it; The National Defense Highway System?

curious

January 31st, 2013
4:30 pm

BTW. This Democrat believes in Universal Service, too and was a participant in the same.

Kris

January 31st, 2013
4:37 pm

With Nunn and Cleland in Hagel corner,this cannot be good for America. Hagel is all for disarming America, and hes probably in favor letting the criminals and mentally ill having Assault weapons

Good Riddance to Sax.

Bye shady dealer in 2014 and some of your cronies.

DLink

January 31st, 2013
4:50 pm

I don’t care much for politics, they’re all liars and they’re very good at it. Sam Nunn and Max Cleland, though… They’ve earned a great deal of respect from me for their integrity while they were in office. More than ANYBODY in office. In GA. Today.

They both agree he’s the right man to be in that office, he’s the right man for the office.

They are two of the very few people I would take at their word on something like this. As I said, I don’t do politics. I trust people like them to do it for me. And that puts me solidly behind Hagel, regardless of politics or political party.