This doesn’t happen very often: progressive LGBT groups and neo-conservatives actually agree on something, namely that former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel should not be President Obama’s pick for Defense Secretary. Though they have decidedly different reasons.
For equality-minded activists, Hagel’s objectionable for his anti-gay voting record and, more to the point, comments he made in 1998, when openly gay James Hormel was being considered as ambassador to Luxembourg.
“They are representing America,” Hagel said of ambassadors. “They are representing our
lifestyle, our values, our standards. And I think it is an inhibiting
factor to be gay – openly aggressively gay like Mr. Hormel – to do an
effective job.” Hormel did eventually get the job.
HRC called Hagel’s comments “unacceptable,” according to BuzzFeed, while Victory Fund’s Denis Dison quipped, “Today openly LGBT Americans serve throughout the three branches of the
federal government, and at very high levels; those who are still
openly, aggressively anti-gay in 2012 probably won’t be able to function
very well in Washington.”
Meanwhile, over on the right, the Weekly Standard‘s Bill Kristol is trying to portray Hagel as “anti-Israel.” “Anti-Israel propagandists are thrilled,” Kristol wrote. “Hagel certainly does have anti-Israel, pro-appeasement-of-Iran bona
fides. While still a senator, Hagel said that ‘a military strike against
Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible
Writing on the right’s attacks on Hagel, Robert Wright at the Atlantic notes, “[The magazine] is employing what you might call a two-tiered strategy: the low road and the lower
For its part, and its concerns about Hagel’s past anti-gay comments, HRC says hope the former senator explains himself. “We look forward to hearing from Senator Hagel on these issues should he be nominated,” said spokesperson Michael Cole-Schwartz.