I thought the Chuck Hagel battle was over, that Chuck Schumer saying Hagel “convinced me he had changed his views” on Israel meant that the nomination is a slam dunk. But The New York Times reports that “secret donors” are financing the fight against Chuck Hagel on the right, and they don’t care if they lose. The Times downplays the Israel lobby angle, but it’s in there:
Sheldon Adelson.. is so invested in the fight over Mr. Hagel that he has reached out directly to Republican Senators to urge them to hold the line against his confirmation, which would be almost impossible to stop against six Republican “yes” votes and a unified Democratic caucus.
Given the more than $100 million he donated to the anti-Obama effort last year, no lawmakers need to be reminded of his importance to their future endeavors. People briefed on his involvement said Mr. Adelson, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and a longtime supporter of Israel, was calling in conjunction with the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group he has financed for several year…
“This is the first big cabinet fight since Bolton,” said Michael Goldfarb, a strategist for a conservative group opposed to Mr. Hagel called the Emergency Committee for Israel and a founder of a conservative Web site called The Washington Free Beacon, which is running a steady stream of anti-Hagel news articles.
The Times also reports that a mysterious group called Use Your Mandate that is attacking Hagel for his anti-gay slurs of years gone by (which he has apologized for) has a connection to the Emergency Committee for Israel.
Even if the groups lose, the Times reports, they will make sure that Obama spends a lot of political capital. Translation: he will have to make a lot of promises to pro-Israel groups.
I wonder if this strategy will work. Going after Hagel could hurt the lobby. Two items. First, a great cartoon at Politico by Matt Wuerker is pretty direct:
Matt Wuerker at Politico
And then, remember what Adelson stands for? NBC News:
But while Adelson and Gingrich have bonded on the issue of a hawkish Mideast policy, especially over the threat of a nuclear Iran, some of the casino mogul’s comments could prove embarrassing. In a talk to an Israeli group in July, 2010, Adelson said he wished he had served in the Israeli Army rather than the U.S. military—and that he hoped his young son would come back to Israel and “be a sniper for the IDF,” a reference to the Israel Defense Forces. (YouTube video of speech) “I am not Israeli. The uniform that I wore in the military, unfortunately, was not an Israeli uniform. It was an American uniform, although my wife was in the IDF and one of my daughters was in the IDF … our two little boys, one of whom will be bar mitzvahed tomorrow, hopefully he’ll come back– his hobby is shooting — and he’ll come back and be a sniper for the IDF,” Adelson said at the event.