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In What Era Did Chuck Hagel Make Anti-Gay Comments?: VIDEO

AriHagel

On MNSBC this morning, stringer host and The Nation columnist Ari Melber helmed a round table discussion on whether Chuck Hagel's 1998 comments about Ambassador James Hormel being "aggressively gay" should disqualify the former senator from becoming the next Defense Secretary. Or, as some on the panel believe, whether Hagel's comments are from a different era and that his potential nomination should rest instead on his most recent foreign policy, like opposing the surge in Iraq and sanctions against Iran.

Right-leaning Mediaite offers a summary:

"We’re talking about someone who — objectionable comments aside or not, the Senate can consider it – someone who would be a change agent, and why won’t the president fight for that,” Melber asked his panel guests.

"His only truly objectionable comment was his comment on the gay community, which he made about one person who has forgiven him," said managing editor of The Grio, Joy Reid.

"And how long ago," laughed author Catherine Crier.

"Two years after Bill Clinton signed [DOMA]," replied New York Times reporter Nick Confessore. "It was a very different time in gay rights."

"Exactly," Reid agreed.

Mediaite's Noah Rothman makes clear what he thinks of this discussion's direction: it's just another example of MSNBC supporting President Obama.

Considering how emphatically the panel guests of Now attacked Mitt Romney back in May of this year for a poorly sourced report that claimed he and other students had forcefully cut the hair of a fellow classmate who turned out to be gay later in life, one could conclude that MSNBC’s dismissal of Hagel’s anti-gay statements are the benefits of his riding a White House trail balloon. After all, if 1998 was a "different time" in gay rights, 1965 is the gay rights equivalent of the pleistocene era.

But all sins are washed away in the glow of the Obama administration’s approval. Even the bigoted comments of a former Republican office holder. It’s a Christmas miracle.

"Poorly sourced"? Five of Romney's schoolyard peers corroborated the haircut story to the Washington Post; four of them identified themselves.

But, anyway, watch the video of Melber and company discussing Hagel's potential nomination AFTER THE JUMP.

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Senators Not Keen On Hagel For Defense Secretary: VIDEO

LiebermanHagel

Former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel cleaned up one political headache, kind of, by apologizing for comments he made in 1998 about Ambassador James Hormel being "aggressively gay."

Hormel has accepted the apology, though does point out it most likely came to clear a path for President Obama to nominate Hagel to be the next Defense Secretary. "While the timing appears self-serving, the words themselves are unequivocal--they are a clear apology," Hormel wrote. 

But there's still the pesky problem of Republicans who oppose Hagel for opposing the surge in Iraq, his votes and comments about Israel and his resistance to sanctions on Iran. If Sen. Lindsey Graham's remarks this morning are any indication, that GOP problem isn't going away anytime soon.

"The Republicans are going to ask him hard questions, and I don’t think he’s going to get many Republican votes," Graham said on Meet the Press. "His positions -- I didn’t really, quite frankly, know all of them -- are really out of the mainstream and well to the left of the president. I think it would be a challenging nomination." Asked if he would support Hagel, Graham said he's going to wait until the nomination hearings. Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer was also asked, but said he's standing by until an actual nomination has been put forth.

Meanwhile, independent Sen. Joe Lieberman used similar language on CNN's State of the Union, telling host Candy Crowley, "...If I were in the Senate on the Armed Services Committee and he was nominated, I would have some really serious questions to ask him, not just about Israel, but to me, the most significant foreign policy challenge for President Obama and our country and the world in the next year or two is Iran and it's nuclear weapons program. Chuck Hagel has had some very outlying votes on that."

Watch Graham, Schumer and Lieberman discuss Hagel's odds AFTER THE JUMP.

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James Hormel Speaks Out About Chuck Hagel's Apology

Former ambassador to Luxembourg James Hormel spoke out today about former Senator Chuck Hagel's apology for remarks he made when Hormel was being considered for his position in 1998. Hagel had said that the fact that Hormel was "aggressively gay" would inhibit his ability to function as a U.S. ambassador.

Today, Hagel apologized in an attempt to preserve his viability as a nominee for Secretary of Defense, saying, “My comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive. They do not reflect my views or the totality of my public record, and I apologize to Ambassador Hormel and any LGBT Americans who may question my commitment to their civil rights. I am fully supportive of ‘open service’ and committed to LGBT military families.”

HormelWrites the WaPo's Greg Sargent:

...in an interview this afternoon, the target of the 1998 slur, leading gay philanthropist James Hormel, told me he never received an apology from Hagel himself, questioned the sincerity of the apology, and said the incident should still raise questions about whether Hagel is the right man to oversee the repeal of don’t ask don’t tell.

“I have not received an apology,” Hormel, who is a major figure in Democratic politics, told me. “I thought this so-called apology, which I haven’t received, but which was made public, had the air of being a defensive move on his part.” Hormel added that the apology appeared to have been given “only in service of his attempt to get the nomination.”...

...Of Hagel’s comment, Hormel added: “If it were made today, it would be clearly disqualifying.”

Added Hormel on Facebook:

"Senator Hagel's apology is significant--I can't remember a time when a potential presidential nominee apologized for anything. While the timing appears self-serving, the words themselves are unequivocal--they are a clear apology. Since 1998, fourteen years have passed, and public attitudes have shifted--perhaps Senator Hagel has progressed with the times, too. His action affords new stature to the LGBT constituency, whose members still are treated as second class citizens in innumerable ways. Senator Hagel stated in his remarks that he was willing to support open military service and LGBT military families. If that is a commitment to treat LGBT service members and their families like everybody else, I would support his nomination."


James Hormel, the First Out Gay Ambassador, Speaks Out About DOMA, LGBT Rights: VIDEO

Hormel

James Hormel, who was appointed United States Ambassador to Luxembourg by President Bill Clinton in 1999, and was the first openly gay ambassador ever to serve, spoke with ABC News about his new book Fit to Serve, as well as DOMA, and what he sees as the #1 problem for LGBT rights today.

Says Hormel: "The number one problem today as I see it is that people think that being gay is a matter of choice, and they somehow distinguish gay people as having made a choice to be tormented by their society."

Hormel calls DOMA “the most heinous piece of civil rights legislation in a century.”

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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