The president is the elected leader of the executive branch of government; therefore, all policy originates with him. He has the right to select the cabinet of his choice, since the heads of the departments, or secretaries, execute his policy. The Senate is required to confirm all cabinet-level nominations and usually does.
In Chuck Hagel, President Obama believes he has found the person who will implement his plan for the Department of Defense. The confirmation should be a mere formality, but it has been contested.
Hagel has become controversial because of his comments concerning Jews, Israel and Jewish lobby groups like AIPAC. In 2006, Hagel told reporter Aaron David Miller that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people (on Capitol Hill),” adding that he was not a senator from Israel, but “a United States Senator.”
This comment on Jewish support for Israel questions whether the Jews are loyal to the United States or Israel. This is classic anti-Semitism. When Pharaoh questioned the loyalty of the Israelites, first he forgot the contributions of Joseph, then he worried that they were a distinct people who would join Egypt’s enemies in a war. Eventually he oppressed them, and later he enslaved them. In the book of Esther, Haman made a similar argument to convince Achashverosh to wipe out the Jews. Haman said that the Jews were not loyal to the kings, but instead had their own laws and were a distinct people in his kingdom.
While I appreciate Christians making the case that Hagel is anti-Semitic, I have to wonder why so many Jews remain silent. This discussion should not be about loyalty to the president, but about anti-Semitism. Chuck Hagel does not understand that Jews are loyal Americans who have fought and died for the United States in all of its wars. They support Israel and ask for American support for Israel. It is doubtful whether he would question the loyalty of any other immigrant group in this same way.
Hagel’s words disqualify him for Secretary of Defense. Let President Obama make a better choice.