Hagel hearing was senators’ audition for donors — Rosenberg

on 10 Comments

More Israel lobby in the news. MJ Rosenberg has a column about why so many Senators were kissing up to the lobby in the Chuck Hagel confirmation hearing of 9 days ago. He says that even South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham was motivated by the desire for money from the lobby:

The Hagel hearing, on the other hand, wasn’t really a hearing at all. For the senators it was just an opportunity to audition in front of current or potential donors.

It was like getting a speaking role at the AIPAC annual conference, an opportunity to demonstrate that a legislator was 100% for whatever the lobby is for.

The worst thing was that a hearing about leading the Pentagon barely touched on any of the issues that affect America’s military. So eager were the senators to suck up to the lobby by proclaiming undying devotion to Israel that they barely mentioned the 1.5 million Americans on active duty and all the problems they face. Nor was there much interest expressed in the current war in Afghanistan or our continuing role in Iraq. Or about when the use of military force is warranted and when it isn’t.

No, it was all about Israel, actually not so much Israel as the Israel lobby. What, other than the desire to please the lobby, could have made Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) ask for Hagel’s commitment that Israel’s aid package would be exempt from sequestration cuts, unlike all the programs that actually affect her constituents?

But her pandering to AIPAC was typical, replicated by such other lobby devotees as Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who histrionically read from a lobby script attesting to the lobby’s non-existence – and demanded that Hagel apologize for ever suggesting that there is such a thing as the (gasp) “Jewish lobby.” Graham, no special fan of Israel, is concerned about a challenge from a Tea Party candidate in 2014 and is eager to raise money from AIPAC-associated donors to help him withstand the challenge

Of course, Gillibrand is from New York but that barely matters any more. She, like her Republican colleagues — Graham, Ted Cruz of Texas, Roy Blunt of Missouri, David Vitter of Louisiana and Mike Lee of Utah, — was playing for money not votes, national money. Although the Republicans know that that lobby donors are unlikely to support right-wing Republicans, they also know (as Jesse Helms discovered) that enthusiastic pandering to AIPAC will make it harder for their Democratic opponents to raise money. Not when, to use AIPAC’s term, the Republican incumbent is a “staunch supporter” of Netanyahu.

In short, the Hagel hearing was a nauseating spectacle.

I’d add this analysis to Rosenberg’s. New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is diving into Illinois politics, targeting a candidate in the Democratic primary to replace a departed congressman because the candidate when formerly in Congress supported gun rights. Bloomberg’s ads single out the NRA, the leading gun lobby organization; because Bloomberg sees unfettered gun rights as a threat to public safety. His PAC ran an ad saying, “[Former Congresswoman Debbie] Halvorson got an A from the NRA.” Gun rights have now become a big issue in the campaign. Have you ever seen a major political figure running ads against the Israel lobby? No; the mainstream is unified in support for Israel. The only candidate I can remember running directly against the lobby was Marcy Winograd in California– and Politico took care to inform us that her support for one democratic state in Israel and Palestine was a fringe position even on the left.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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10 Responses

  1. American
    February 9, 2013, 12:54 pm

    Of course it was about Lobby related money. And for some like Gillibrand in districts with significant number of Jews, among whom are going to be some committed zionist who could oppose or support her in rallying voters.

    I posted a week ago an article about the Lobby targeting my Senator Hagan who runs again 2014 and several others up for re election.

    It’s always about the campaign money..and…about not getting knee-capped in your re election campaign by the rabid zio orgs if you’re not totally I-First in all matters.

  2. Krauss
    February 9, 2013, 1:05 pm

    At the risk of shameless self-promotion. This is what I wrote almost a week ago now:

    I have come to view the Hagel hearing not as an actual hearing – I believe it was actually a fundraiser.

    When Tom Friedman worte about Congress continous applause of Bibi and how every single applause had been “bought and paid for” by the Israel lobby, a firestorm ensued. Yet, as we now know, Debbie Wasserman Schultz was leading the charge, giving hand signals to her caucus when to rise and clap.

    A few days later, Nahum Barnea, one of Israel’s most esteemed journalists, wrote in Yehidoth, defending Friedman, and then said that he was there at the time and he saw Jewish-Zionist right-wing donors looking down from the balcony. He never specified which or who they were, but he made clear that they were there for surveillance. Is “my” Congressman/woman doing what I paid them to do? I doubt that the Congressmen/women weren’t aware of the fact that their right-wing donors were watching them, seeing how they behave.

    What I wondered back then was; were the Congressmen and women aware of this?
    They must have been! Their donors were looking and they required a show.

    What makes you think this wasn’t the case with the Hagel hearing? I think a lot of those senators knew their donors, or their donors’ representatives and aides, were watching. That’s why it was all about Israel.

    The facade had been shattered. Gone were the liberal smokescreens about gay, women or abortion. Now, the only concern that was ever really at play came to fore: will Hagel commit to the Apartheid state? He even gritted through his teeth “Israel is our closest ally”.

    This was quite a show for the lobby. Hagel knows that in foreign policy, he doesn’t answer to Congress, which has indeed been bought by the Israel lobby as Friedman explained in the Times. But even so, an opportunity was missed, as Beinart later said, when he failed to draw a contrast in a sufficient manner. Beinart thought it was his aides, who had briefed him and went with the ‘safe route’. That was disappointing.

    Nonetheless, I gather that Lindsay Graham and other whores of the lobby pleased their masters quite well. They knew it was a fundraising effort. And they did what they were great at.

    Source: http://mondoweiss.net/2013/02/israeli-soldier-checkpoint.html#comment-536358

    So yes. MJ is absolutely right. And that does feel better writing as he basically comes to the same conclusion that I came to.
    Okay, okay, bragging is over.

  3. pabelmont
    February 9, 2013, 1:56 pm

    MJR has it exactly. Whether Americans recognize this for what it is, and whether they dislike it as they should, it would be nice to see.

    But will it be possible to see? It is not so easy, after all, for Joe SixPack to tell America that he disapproves of this or that congressman because of the huge sucking sound he made at the Hagel hearings.

  4. yourstruly
    February 9, 2013, 4:03 pm

    marcy winograd’s support for one democratic state in israel & palestine?

    until recently?

    a fringe position even on the left?

    except right now?

    at center stage?

    justice for palestine?

    along with a just and peaceful world?

    ever since?

  5. DICKERSON3870
    February 9, 2013, 4:26 pm

    RE: “The Hagel hearing . . . wasn’t really a hearing at all. For the senators it was just an opportunity to audition in front of current or potential donors. It was like getting a speaking role at the AIPAC annual conference, an opportunity to demonstrate that a legislator was 100% for whatever the lobby is for.” ~ Weiss


    . . . He [Mark Twain] quotes his childhood friend as saying, “You tell me where a man gets his corn pone (bread), and I’ll tell you what his opinions are.” Meaning that one’s opinions can be told based on where that person got their bread. . .

    SOURCE – http://english414fall2011.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/corn-pone-opinions/

    P.S. ANOTHER RELEVANT QUOTATION: “You can’t use tact with a Congressman! A Congressman is a hog! You must take a stick and hit him on the snout!” ~ From ‘The Education of Henry Adams’, By Henry Brooks Adams (American journalist, historian, academic and novelist, 1838-1918)
    The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams – http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2044
    The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography (Google eBook) – http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Education_of_Henry_Adams.html?id=-ThaAAAAMAAJ

    P.P.S. Henry Brooks Adams’ paternal grandfather was President John Quincy Adams, and his great grandfather was President John Adams.

    • DICKERSON3870
      February 9, 2013, 4:48 pm

      RE: “The Hagel hearing . . . wasn’t really a hearing at all. For the senators it was just an opportunity to audition in front of current or potential donors. It was like getting a speaking role at the AIPAC annual conference, an opportunity to demonstrate that a legislator was 100% for whatever the lobby is for.” – from above

      CORRECTION: I originally attributed the above quote to Phil. Actually, it is from the excerpt of MJ Rosenberg’s column. I apologize profusely for any confusion my error may have caused.

  6. Kathleen
    February 10, 2013, 2:03 am

    Rosenberg nails it. Gillibrand has been brown nosing for a long time. Never goes off the I lobby script. Never. We just watched the I believe second episode of “House of Cards” the I lobby/ADL scene is classic.

  7. sandhillexit
    February 10, 2013, 11:28 am

    Meanwhile it looks like the handover at State from Clinton to Kerry is being treated by the IDF as a window of opportunity in the Jordan Valley to win a round of “facts on the ground” while nobody is paying attention. It’s pretty clear that Clinton was vigilant and quick to respond and pick up the phone. Where the heck is Kerry? I wonder if he’s really up to the job.

  8. Les
    February 10, 2013, 2:09 pm

    Saturday Night Live’s coverage of the Hagel hearings, though unaired, is too good to miss

    McCain asks Hagel, if the security of Israel were at risk, would Hagel be willing to fellate a donkey.

    [hulu id=455138]

  9. Tom Callaghan
    February 10, 2013, 2:18 pm

    The opposition to the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense would disappear in a heartbeat if Sheldon Adelson put his wallet back in his pocket. There is little chance of that…he’s having too much fun. He’s got hollow men like Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham salivating for cash. http://www.wednesdayswars.com

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