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. Do you honestly believe Obama will allow Hagel to impose his own social policy on the military, one which is in direct conflict with his own?

    You are naive on matters political and governmental.

    Posted by: John | Dec 30, 2012 6:33:06 PM

  2. If you honestly think that the opinions of the Secretary of Defense will hold CONSIDERABLE influence among his underling in the military brass, calling your views "naive" would be a compliment. But as we've made clear, you know nothing about the military.

    Posted by: Wayne | Dec 30, 2012 6:42:00 PM

  3. Correction: If you honestly think that the opinions of the Secretary of Defense will "not" hold CONSIDERABLE influence among his underling in the military brass....

    Posted by: Wayne | Dec 30, 2012 6:44:53 PM

  4. You've made clear nothing. You haven't even shown how your service in the Army gives you insight into how to run the DoD.

    We'll have to agree to disagree.

    Posted by: John | Dec 30, 2012 6:46:47 PM

  5. ARRGH!!!! Yet more "Under the Bus" balderdash from our self-anointed "fierce ally for gay equality." There's no PROOF Hagel's apology is sincere, particularly given he couldn't bother to express it to Hormel directly. Hormel's whiplash reversal of his perfectly founded criticism was a screamingly TRANSPARENT result of someone in Obama, Inc., having yanked his chain. Why didn't they pressure Hagel to contact Hormel rather than Hormel to shamelessly eat his words? Wasn't Mr. Obama's last Repug SECDEF, Robert Gates, bad enough? He claimed he'd changed HIS mind about gays, too, yet needlessly discharged some 800 more gay troops while cunningly pushing the DADT repeal bill to the edge of the legislative cliff, AND forcing our allies in Congress to gut it of any guarantee of equality IN the service just in case. He left office still REFUSING to implement repeal six months after the bill was passed. Even if Hagel HAS changed, NO Democratic President should be appointing a Repug SECDEF—THE most important position in his/her Cabinet—literally one of Life and Death. The WORST place for the charade of "Bipartisanship." Democrat John Kerry has all the credentials and more that Obama claims is why he has a singular man crush on Chuck. AND a PROVEN record of gay rights advocacy. Finally, how reprehensible to see that the "leaders" of the Community's PAID advocates at the Human Rights Champagne fund [who gave Hagel a 0% rating for his Senate record] and OS-SLDN are still what they've been for the past four years—lapdogs barking on cue for anything Mr. Obama wants.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Dec 30, 2012 7:02:13 PM

  6. I don't trust Hagel. His apology came too late. It seems manufactured for political purposes.

    Obama's position also seems manufactured for political purposes.

    Posted by: steven lucas | Dec 30, 2012 7:52:30 PM

  7. It's not just that one damn comment. Will everyone please just acknowledge that it's not just that one damn comment?

    It's a lifetime of anti-gay sentiments and positions and VOTES.

    Plus, anti-feminism and racism to boot.

    Let's just drop him and move on.

    Posted by: JeffNYC | Dec 30, 2012 8:45:20 PM

  8. Hagel's troglodyte record on gay rights is still an issue even though President Obama finds it very inconvenient as he would like to nominate Hagel tomorrow.

    I hope the President will not risk the political cost of loosing the confirmation battle on this terrible choice.

    It's not only about what he said many years ago, but that he has not come out for any specific or general commitment to equality for gay military families.

    In general for gays to accept Hagel, he must say that he would like to see DOMA overturned at the Supreme Court.

    But there are many ways a Secretary of Defense could help gay military families no matter how DOMA is decided and Hagel has not come out in favor of any of these.

    Reports to the contrary, LGBT equality is not yet a done deal in the military. There is still the matter of partner benefits. There still remain a handful of regulations that could be revised independent of the Defense of Marriage act that could bring some equity of compensation and benefits to gay and lesbian servicemembers. but remain denied due only to Department of Defense foot-dragging:

    Included in the discretionary benefits currently denied are spousal identication cards, cited in the Pentagon's own Working Group study as not requiring DOMA repeal to deliver.

    Posted by: Jean | Dec 31, 2012 2:10:34 AM

  9. Not so fast Mr. President. Why did Hagel wait so long to apologize... and the fact that he never apologize directly to Ambassador Hormel tells me Mr.Hagel is a Genuine Republican hypocrite! Please don't waste your time on this man for the job... he is a loose canon with his mouth, and that is not what we need for the defense Czar. I believe Senator Feinstein or Liberman would be right for the job. Not because they are Jewish,but because they are both qualified having served well on the Arm Forces Committee.

    Posted by: Jerry Pritikin aka The Bleacher Preacher | Dec 31, 2012 2:36:39 AM

  10. I am officially tired of my President. He won't tell the repugs to go f**k themselves and now he is an apologist for a homophobe.

    Posted by: DC Arnold | Dec 31, 2012 8:19:24 AM

  11. Wow, there are a lot of jerking knees around here. John is 100% right; we need to support those who, for whatever reason and however incremantally, make claims that demonstrate increasing support us. Hopefully it's reflective of Hagel's personal change in views, but whatever the motion, it's better than the alternative. And yes, the full support of DADT repeal is essential, and I'm sure he'll be asked about that in confirmation hearings.

    What we can't afford to do is be seen as knee-jerk activists who militantly monitor everyone's views with an "our way or the highway" approach. We need to educate and lead by example, and not stoop to petty right wing tactics.

    Posted by: Paul | Dec 31, 2012 10:21:57 AM

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