Senator Hagel – I have some questions too…

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Chuck_Hagel official photo 2009

Chuck_Hagel official photo 2009commentary.

I have questions about some of Senator Hagel’s past statements… some of his nuanced statements about Israel and Iran arguably can be misinterpreted and I do not want to hear any Republicans, especially in the Senate, complain about Iran and Israel when in 2008 they held up the enhanced Iran Sanctions bill for a year just because the lead Democrat was Senator Obama and they did not want him to get credit for being a friend of Israel and tough on Iran.

Now, the Log Cabin Republicans are suddenly concerned about Israel? As a member of NORPAC, I regularly lobby Congress using AIPAC talking points on my own dime … Hey Logs, where have you been all this time? Is it perhaps all about some new found funding?

I’d rather follow the lead of a Teddy Roosevelt who walked softly but carried a big stick, than be a bellicose chicken hawk. Pardon my impertinence, but what do people say about bird brains?

Logs have been reported to say, “We don’t listen to what a candidate actually says. We try to feel where they seem to stand.”

The bottom line on Israel is that the Commander in Chief is Barack Obama who has quietly done some huge things for Israel and given respect to Jews in America. Yes, I’d love to be invited to the next Seder at the White House, an Obama first.

However, some of Chuck Hagel’s past statements regarding LGBT issues, unfortunately, were clear, but people can and do change and he has apologized. I will be following his confirmation hearings very closely. It’s not just about him following his Commander-in-chief’s orders to the letter, but with what spirit will he follow, and what kind of a “culture” will he encourage at DOD? Will service members and their spouses and children be treated with full equality?

Will our military continue to discriminate on the basis of “gender identity”? Would Hagel encourage making changes following the positive examples of the Israel Defense Forces, the Royal Air Force, the Armed Forces of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Thailand etc, etc?…or will we continue to demonstrate our ignorance by drumming out outstanding service members, and disqualifying qualified and skilled recruits?

I have a friend who just retired from the US Military who, in the middle of her stealth transition, as she served her last tour in a combat zone, got promoted and earned a bronze star. In fear of being outed and discharged, she retired prematurely nearing the peak of her career.

As a former Army Staff Sergeant who served during the Viet Nam era, the prospect of having a fellow non-commissioned officer as SECDEF is extremely attractive additionally because of the practical and much needed perspective that surely must come with his experience.

I hope that he has changed to where he is in sync with the President as regards full LGBT equality; I hope that he is confirmed and succeeds in making our military leaner, more efficient and more inclusive and that inclusiveness also includes the DOD Civilian employees.

Barbara Casbar SipersteinBarbra Casbar Siperstein is a member of the Democratic National  Executive Committee and Deputy Vice Chair of the NJ Democratic State Committee.

Chuck_Hagel official photo 2009commentary.

I have questions about some of Senator Hagel’s past statements… some of his nuanced statements about Israel and Iran arguably can be misinterpreted and I do not want to hear any Republicans, especially in the Senate, complain about Iran and Israel when in 2008 they held up the enhanced Iran Sanctions bill for a year just because the lead Democrat was Senator Obama and they did not want him to get credit for being a friend of Israel and tough on Iran.