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Hagel Feeling the Heat at Nomination Hearing

An intense morning for the defense secretary nominee

Adam Chandler
January 31, 2013

If you’re still weaning yourself off of caffeine for the new year, a Senate committee hearing may not be the first place you’d likely look for stimulation. But the one featuring Chuck Hagel this morning and afternoon as he fends off vehement criticism of his record and his postures toward Israel, Jews, nuclear policy, Iran, and gays in the military might just do the trick.

For one, check out his extremely testy exchange with Senator John McCain–Hagel’s one-time friend–about the surge.

To sum up some of what’s been happening today, as Eli Lake explores, Hagel seems to be in the midst of a “battlefield conversion.” For example:

Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense, who has spent the past eight years an avowed critic of what he saw as the wasteful militarism of the last Republican president, sounded at his confirmation hearing in Thursday like a tried-and-true neoconservative. He assured his former Senate colleagues that when it comes to Iran, “all options are on the table.” “My policy is one of prevention, and not containment,” Hagel said. This is quite a different tone for a man who said only a few years ago that he supported “unconditional and comprehensive talks” with the Islamic Republic.

Check out the rest here.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.