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CUFI and the Ugly Face of Hagel's OppositionDr. James M. Wall Salem-News.com
As was to be expected, the progressive political left was harshly critical of Hagel’s testimony.
(CHICAGO) - This nation’s foreign policy is, for this weekend at least, in the pious hands of John Hagee, a Christian fundamentalist preacher from Texas.
To be sure, Hagee is not the only policy-shaker whose minions are roaming the hallowed halls of the nation’s capitol. But he is certainly the most conspicuous and overt religionist participating in the US senate battle over President Obama’s nominee for defense secretary, former Senator Chuck Hagel.
Hagee created Christians United for Israel (CUFI) in February, 2006. Seven years later (a divine period which in biblical years led to the release of slaves), CUFI is buying television ads in four states, each of which has a Democratic senator who could be vulnerable to defeat in 2014.
That reads more like the creation of, rather than the release of, slaves, but then, divine commands may more often than not, be in the minds and hearts of the divine command transmitters.
At any rate, it is not seven years, but six years (the term of office for a US senator), which John Hagee assumes is on the minds of four Democratic senators who are up for reelection in 2014. The states and the senators are Arkansas (Mark Pryor), Louisiana (Mary Landrieu), Colorado (Mark Udall) and North Carolina (Kay Hagan).
The goal of CUFI’s ads running in those states, and the strong Christian fundamentalist religious pressure behind them, is quite simple: Threaten, intimidate and warn these four Democrats that they could pay a price for voting in favor of Hagel.
And, it must also be noted, the ads let other senators know CUFI is watching.
JTA, the Global News Service of the Jewish People, describes the Washington political/religious scene this week:
CUFI is not targeting Republican senators with prayers and threats. No need, prayers and threats have long since done their work.
No CUFI ads ran in Texas, for example, a state already safely in CUFI’s clutches. Indeed, the Lone Star state, which has sent two Bushes to the White House, has two Republican senators now leading the vitriolic political/religious charge against Hagel.
Sen. John Cornyn, the senior Texas senator, was the first senator to come out against Hagel’s nomination. He did so, he acknowledged, at John Hagee’s behest during a meeting this Monday.
Cornyn set the tone for the Hagel hearing with his egregious declaration, ”I cannot support a nominee for defense secretary who suggests we should be tougher on Israel and more lenient on Iran.”
The second Texas senator, Ted Cruz, now beginning his first term, is shown in the picture above, talking to Democratic Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin, right (with Hagel behind them). During Thursday’s hearings, Cruz fired a series of prosecutorial questions at Hagel in the eight hours the nominee endured in his grilling before the committee.
Some Democrats on the Armed Services committee were supportive of Hagel, but they were careful not to give any hint that they had any doubts about their love and devotion to Israel.
They are, after all, fully aware of the leitmotif (an anglicization of the German Leitmotiv, literally meaning “leading motif”, or perhaps more accurately, “guiding motif) constantly ringing in their political ears back home through media, donors, voters and alas, religious groups from mainline Protestants to the right wing fundamentalist CUFI crowd.
From the Republican side in the Senate committee hearings, there was only polite deference displayed for Hagel’s Vietnam military and senate service. Instead, adopting the style of another prosecutorial senator, Arizona’s Republican Senator John McCain, Cruz demanded yes or no answers, or the order of “do you or do you not stand behind this quote from 1999 (or 2002, or whenever)”.
It was, over all, an ugly scene in the nation’s capitol as Republican senators bolstered their Israeli bona fides to demonstrate just how much they love the Zionist program that occupies a Palestinian population and elevates Israel above criticism or blame.
If there has been any senatorial concern that Israel became the first country to boycott a UN Human Rights Council review of its rights situation this week, it did not surface in any format I could locate.
During the Hagel hearings, Republicans focused exclusively on loving Israel as they leveled blistering attacks on a former senate colleague, forcing him to explain, clarify and at times, appear to reverse statements made over the past decade. The senators tried to get him to give yes or no questions to some of the more complex issues this nation will confront during his term as defense secretary.
In spite of these highly personal attacks, Hagel remained cool, maintaining his composure to such a degree that, if you are pulling for him, he succeeded in making his attackers look both nasty and petty.
In preparation for the hearings, Hagel did his political homework. He bolstered his support among pro-Israel Democratic senators. Once he convinced Chuck Schumer of New York, that he (Hagel) was not anti-Israel, he passed the Schumer litmus test.
Here is JTA’s reading of the groundwork Hagel and his White House counselors, laid prior to the hearings:
In his fight against Hagel, John Hagee’s CUFI had the support of co-religionist groups in the Jewish community, none of which, however, to my knowledge, ran ads “praying” for senatorial votes
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) did contribute a web video which the JTA describes as “featuring Democrats and Jewish organizational leaders expressing concern about Hagel.
“Expressing concern” is Zionist polite parlor talk for “we don’t like you or what you stand for”.
No prayer talk either from the Emergency Committee for Israel which ran a full-page ad in the New York Times, January 15, joining the Zionist Organization of America in opposing Hagel.
And of course, it would not be a pro-Israel alley fight without the presence of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, described by JTA as “one of the GOP’s most generous donors and an RJC board member”. Adelson made his pitch directly by calling senators who appreciate his fondness for Israel as well as his generous deep pockets.
Matt Brooks, the RJC’s executive director, went all down-home-like on us with his comment, “We’ve made a strategic decision to gin up as much support among our leaders to reach out to the folks.”
As was to be expected, the progressive political left was harshly critical of Hagel’s testimony. Philip Weiss, major domo of Mondoweiss, reacted to the Thursday hearings:
David Weigel writing for Slate, saw something bogus in the questions thrown at Hagel by Senator Ted Cruz, who came to the hearings with
The larger context of the quote, Weigel reports, is here:
The final vote may come Monday. In spite of the hostile hearings, it still appears Hagel will win confirmation. That vote will end yet another political episode when the ambiguity of democracy is put on full display.
It is not always pretty; at times it is downright ugly. But it is what we get when flawed political leaders struggle to govern.
Please visit James Wall's Website, Wall Writings
Journalism was Jim Wall’s undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. An ordained United Methodist clergy person; he and his wife, Mary Eleanor, are the parents of three sons, and the grandparents of four grandchildren. They live in Elmhurst, Illinois.
Jim served for two years on active duty in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF (inactive) reserve. While serving with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years, starting in 1972. Time magazine wrote about the new editor, who arrived at the Christian Century determined to turn the magazine into a hard-hitting news publication. The inspiration for Wall Writings comes from that mindset and from many other sources that have influenced Jim’s writings over the years, including politics, cinema, media, American culture, and the political struggles in the Middle East. Jim has made more than 20 trips to that region as a journalist, during which he covered such events as Anwar Sadat’s 1977 trip to Jerusalem, and the 2006 Palestinian legislative election. He has interviewed, and written about, journalists, religious leaders, political leaders and private citizens in the region. You can write to Jim Wall at email@example.com. Visit Jim's Website: Wall Writings
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