Republican Chuck Hagel, a former two-term senator from Nebraska and President Obama's choice to lead the Pentagon, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Chuck Hagel appeared before his former colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, seeking their approval for his nomination to serve as secretary of defense. What followed was one of the most absurd, embarrassing hearings in recent Washington memory.
Senators battered Hagel for even small departures from accepted conventional wisdom, subtly (and not-so-subtly) charged that he actually sought America’s destruction, begged him to keep defense spending headed towards their state, and generally thrashed traditional notions of the Senate’s role to “advise and consent” on cabinet appointments.
It was a difficult task to narrow these down, but here are ten of the most ridiculous questions posed to Hagel:
Winners, “Please Admit You Hate America” Division
Senator James Inhofe, R-OK: The question I’d like to ask you, and you can answer for the record if you like, why do you think that the Iranian foreign ministry so strongly supports your nomination to be the secretary of defense?
Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC: Do you believe that the sum total of all of your votes, refusing to sign a letter to the EU asking Hezbollah to be designated a terrorist organization, being one of two to vote [against] designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, being one of two on two occasions to vote against sanctions that this body was trying to impose on Iran, the statements you made about Palestinians and the Jewish lobby, all that together—that the image you’ve created is one of sending the worst possible message to our enemies and our friends at one of the most critical times in world history?
Winners, “Please Pledge, Here and Now, To Start A War” Division
Senator John McCain, R-AZ: Do you think that Syrians should get the weapons they need and perhaps establish a no-fly zone? [A no-fly zone would, almost without question, quickly lead to a full-scale air war with Syria.]
Senator Mark Udall, D-CO: Why should Americans trust that you will consider every option when it comes to one of the most serious national security threats facing us today, which is Iran? [There were many, many iterations of this same question.]