Barack Obama | Chuck Hagel | News

Obama Says Hagel's Gay Apology Proves 'Positive Change': VIDEO


In a Meet the Press interview centered largely on the so-called fiscal cliff and the GOP's obstructionism, President Obama was asked whether potential Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel's decades-old comments degrading gay people should disqualify the former senator from filling the cabinet position.

Obviously Obama, the man whose consideration of Hagel started this whole thing, said no, telling host David Gregory that Hagel's a "patriot" who has done "extraordinary work" in the Senate and "served our country with valor" during Vietnam.

Obama also said Hagel's apology shows that the former Republican Senator and our country have experienced a "positive change" about gays and lesbians serving in the army.

"I've served with Chuck Hagel. I know him. He is a patriot. He is somebody who has done extraordinary work both in the United States Senate, somebody who served this country with valor in Vietnam, and is somebody who's currently serving on my Intelligence Advisory Board and doing an outstanding job," said the president before specifically zeroing in on Hagel's past comment that being gay is an "inhibiting factor" for a potential ambassador.

"With respect to the particular comment that you quoted, he apologized for it," he said. "It's a testimony to what has been a positive change over the last decade in terms of people's attitudes about gays and lesbians serving our country, and that's something that I'm very proud to have led. And I think that anybody who serves in my administration understands my attitude and position on those issues."

Watch President Obama offer his thoughts on Chuck Hagel AFTER THE JUMP.


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  1. People change for a political purpose before they change for a private purpose. Obama knows that full well. Without the gay vote Obama would not be in office today. So his "transition" on gay issues is just that, a transition, more for political purposes than it is personal.

    Same for Hagel. He wants the job so he will say/do whatever it takes to get the job. Do we want someone so disingenuous in such a high political position? No.

    Obama allowed Rice to go down in flames and the match used to strike that fire should be used against Hagel. Forget him Obama and move on.

    Posted by: OS2Guy | Dec 30, 2012 12:05:29 PM

  2. We cannot become like the Right-wingers and demand lifetime political purity. I agree with Hagel on Israel and Iran and he will follow the law and support our troops. If the right-wingers use the LGBT community to do their dirty work we will all be the poorer for it.

    Posted by: Joey | Dec 30, 2012 12:35:00 PM

  3. Sorry, Mr. President, but you've already made one major mistake in your second term: appointing John Kerry as Secretary of State at the expense of the qualified candidate, Susan Rice.

    Don't compound the error by appoint Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

    Neither Kerry nor Hagel are qualified for those positions and their appointments and confirmations will be a disaster for this country.

    Shame on you, Mr. President.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Dec 30, 2012 12:56:02 PM

  4. Not buying it, Mr. President.

    Posted by: Mike | Dec 30, 2012 1:03:16 PM

  5. It would comport with me better if Chuck Hagel offered a stronger apology. But it sounds like Obama will have the reins on him.

    Posted by: Kyle | Dec 30, 2012 1:27:14 PM

  6. As for Hagel's apology...meh. But I AM getting really tired of Obama playing this stupid "bipartisanship" game with a party that loathes him. There aren't any qualified Democrats who could fill the job of Defense Secretary? When was the last time a GOP president appointed a Democrat to a high cabinet post out of a spirit of bipartisanship? And as for Kerry being nominated to State, great--now we have a blue Senate seat up for grabs again. Anyone want to bet that Scott Brown will be right back in the thick of things with a strong chance to win back the seat he just lost?

    Posted by: Scotty | Dec 30, 2012 1:48:37 PM

  7. So Hagel apologized for what he said was an "insensitive" comment. But what about Hagel's voting record? Any change or apology on that?

    Hagel was AGAINST repealing DADT, voted TWICE against the inclusion of sexual orientation under Hate Crimes legislation and continues to be "opposed to gay marriage."

    I guess Obama doesn't mind? So we should just give the bigot a pass, right?

    Posted by: Wayne | Dec 30, 2012 2:16:38 PM

  8. Hagel is totally unacceptable. He has shown a profound disconnect with the gay community. I would not trust the newly won right of gays to serve openly in the armed services in his hands.

    He apologized for his offensive remarks against Ambassador Hormel? When? Yesterday? How convenient. Where was his apology in the last fifteen years or so? He makes it when his name is being bandied about for a cabinet post. Can you say opportunistic?

    If Obama puts forth Hagel for Secretary of Defense despite the gay community's misgivings it will show just how wishy-washy he is about gays and their sensitivities. It will be all about what he wants and not what is good for the country.

    Posted by: Vince | Dec 30, 2012 3:20:02 PM

  9. Of course we should give him a pass - the president has shown more political courage that any other president to date on gay equality, however low that bar was set.

    The president was re-elected and is entitled to assemble the team he wants/needs to govern, unless great evidence is shown that it'll be detrimental to the country.

    This litmus test of total purity when it comes to gay rights is wrong - you do realize that as late as 2005, Gallup showed 68% of Americans didn't support marriage equality? Now that our visibility and struggle has gotten them to this point... do we really want to crucify them for not being with us all along? For holding, yes, bigoted views? Where does that get us? It's like the British refusing to accept America as an ally after Pearl Harbor because they had been left flapping in the wind for a few years. Do not cut your nose off to spite your face.

    We must rise above it and move forward toward our goal. We can't be petty - "with malice toward none" - we are not the Tea Party.

    Also: the idea that Kerry isn't qualified is the most idiotic statement I've ever read. It doesn't even deserve a response. It's not a serious thought.

    Posted by: John | Dec 30, 2012 3:33:09 PM

  10. I don't support anyone who does NOT support my full equality. I do not think putting a known anti-gay bigot in charge of the continuing implementation of the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell is in any way a good idea (And I'll ad, I'm ex-Army. I speak from experience. Hagel voted REPEATEDLY against the inclusion of sexual orientation under Federal Hate Crimes legislation. The military still REFUSES to include sexual orientation as as protected class under standard military equal opportunity regulations. Putting a bigot like Hagel in charge at this point would be a DISASTER for gay and lesbian soldiers.

    Posted by: Wayne | Dec 30, 2012 3:40:52 PM

  11. Good for the country?

    Perhaps, just perhaps, righting the state of the military is a bigger good for the country than being 100% pure.

    Do not let perfect be the enemy of good.

    Posted by: John | Dec 30, 2012 3:46:21 PM

  12. And John, I have to ask, are now supposed to forgive all anti-gay bigots for their votes against us, even when they don't refute those votes? Or is it just the anti-gay bigots that Obama likes that get a pass? I take it you'll be singing Obama's friend Pastor Rick Warren's praises next?


    Posted by: Wayne | Dec 30, 2012 3:48:38 PM

  13. Isn't this what we want? For the GOP to start apologizing for anything anti-gay? It makes it look even worst to do it. Having this sad apologetic fool will only lead the way to more. I say pass him!

    Posted by: Jake | Dec 30, 2012 4:04:26 PM

  14. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good? So John, you are saying that Hagel is "good?" A man who intentionally sabotaged the first gay Ambassador for no other reason than he was gay. A man who voted REPEATEDLY against the inclusion of sexual orientation under Federal Hate Crimes legislation, the man who IS STILL on record as being "opposed" to marriage equality.

    That's what you call good?! I'd hate to see who you think is actually bad.

    Posted by: Wayne | Dec 30, 2012 4:07:14 PM

  15. Wow. You guys are totally falling into the hands of Neocon war mongers and AIPAC. Are you that easy?

    Posted by: mikemike | Dec 30, 2012 4:16:52 PM

  16. Neocons may not like Hagel because of his views on Iran and Israel, but that DOES NOTHING TO CHANGE HAGEL'S CLEARLY ANTI-GAY VOTING RECORD.

    A anti-gay bigot can also be an anti-Semite. Why should that surprise anyone one?

    Posted by: Wayne | Dec 30, 2012 4:21:14 PM

  17. He's going to be head of the Pentagon, serving at the pleasure of the president. He is a war veteran, experienced in foreign policy, and, most importantly, correct on all the issues that will confront him militarily.

    He held views in line with the voters of his state and, more importantly, his generation. He has apologized for his inflammatory remarks.

    Is that good enough? Of course not. Nothing will take the sting out of his words and votes. Nor of the words and actions of our family, friends and neighbors. But people change. We can't preach the gospel of enlightenment thru education and visibility of our cause and then turn around and condemn those who have 'seen the light.'

    It's good political theater and emotionally satisfying to seek some bloodletting, but it won't help our cause nor will it win us any new friends who will be crucial in the next 5-10 years.

    To quote Lincoln, 'am I not destroying my enemies by making friends of them?'

    Posted by: John | Dec 30, 2012 5:47:19 PM

  18. I'm okay with what Obama wants. I'll give him this. I remember when many people on this site were unhappy with Obama because he was "not moving fast enough" re: gay rights & marriage. He's our strongest political ally ever, which clearly goes deeper than campaign fundraiser money. This weekend he's urging Illinois lawmakers to stand up for gay marriage in that state (a vote may be coming soon). If Obama's good with Hagel, so am I.

    Posted by: will | Dec 30, 2012 5:52:40 PM

  19. John you keep saying he "held views" as if Hagel's views have changed. Hagel is still on record as being "opposed" to marriage equality for gay Americans. His anti-gay views are still quite current. But you think we should just ignore that, right. You've never served in the military, have you?

    Posted by: Wayne | Dec 30, 2012 5:56:44 PM

  20. So Obama is saying the only one even close to being fit for the job is an old white anti-gay Republican! And Obama's gay supporters are actually cheering for the bigot to take over the helm at the Pentagon.

    LOL. You can't make this sh*t up!

    Posted by: Wayne | Dec 30, 2012 6:02:55 PM

  21. We shouldn't ignore anything - forgive, but don't forget.

    I'm just arguing for a nuanced approach rather than seeing everything through a purely gay lense.

    He's going to run the Def Dept - a vast, bloated, agency with a trillion dollar budget that is in urgent need of radical reform. I'm pretty sure the president won't be running his push for equality out of the Pentagon.

    While I'm disappointed he isn't in favor of marriage equality, I don't think that should disqualify him for the position anymore than being anti-gay marriage disqualified Clinton for Sec of State. Or for that matter, Obama in 2008. We live in a complex world and we have to individually weigh these choices.

    As for whether I've served in the military... how does that support your points? Emotional nonsense.

    Posted by: John | Dec 30, 2012 6:12:25 PM


    I would like a clearer statement from Hagel before I am satisfied, but it is insane to pick at his party-dictated voting record, and not check his intentions for the future. He has to repudiate DOMA and DADT clearly-- if he does, the USA and its Gay citizens will profit by having a Viet Nam vet head the Defense Dept, not a political hack like Rumsfeld

    Posted by: Bob | Dec 30, 2012 6:12:36 PM

  23. I wince at your 'old, white male' dig. And I'm not white. I think we can be classy and make points - we don't have to go into histrionics and 'LOL.'

    We seem to be dancing in circles so we'll just have to agree to disagree.

    Posted by: John | Dec 30, 2012 6:18:52 PM

  24. "As for whether I've served in the military... how does that support your points? Emotional nonsense."

    The only nonsense on display here, is your own. You just stated that Hagel was "most importantly, correct on all the issues that will confront him militarily." As I said, I actually served in the Army, I speak from experience. And to ignore the fact that Hagel has REPEATEDLY voted against sexual orientation protections in the past and has a direct bearing on his views on the inclusion of sexual orientation under standard military E.O. policy - which remains UNRESOLVED and will absolutely be on issue that "confronts" Hagel if he is Defense Sec. As will the continued discriminatory policies in regard to gay service members and their families.

    You may call it "emotional nonsense" but that's because you don't have the slightest clue as to what you are talking about.

    Posted by: Wayne | Dec 30, 2012 6:22:05 PM

  25. How do you think a man like Hagel who is currently on record as being "opposed" to marriage equality for gay Americans is going to work out as the head of the Pentagon when it comes to ensuring equal treatment to the married family members of gay soldiers? How do you think a man who has REPEATEDLY voted against the inclusion of sexual orientation under federal hate crimes legislation, and felt compelled to speak his views about gay people being incapable of representing America, will work when it comes to ensuring the inclusion of sexual orientation protections under standard military E.O. policy.

    Did all that bigotry just fly away? Never to be seen again? Does anyone really believe an apology that came 14 years late? Is this the twilight zone?

    Posted by: Wayne | Dec 30, 2012 6:30:27 PM

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