Morning Joe | January 07, 2013
>> another battle in washington obviously is over chuck hagel . that's going to be the big news.
>> that's a fantastic transition. let me do that now. today president obama is expected to nominate former republican senator chuck hagel of nebraska as the next defense secretary . hagel , a decorated vietnam combat veteran, would be the first enlisted soldier to hold that cabinet post. his confirmation, however, is -- can you believe this -- shaping up to be a testy battle with the republicans . even though he is a republican. a number of republicans have suggested they will challenge their former colleague with tough questions on his foreign policy record.
>> his views with regard to israel , for example, and iran and all the other positions that he's taken over the years will be, you know, i think very much a matter of discussion during the confirmation process.
>> so you're not predicting smooth sailing for chuck hagel ?
>> i think it will be a lot of tough questions of senator hagel , but he'll be treated fairly by republican s in the senate .
>> quite frankly, chuck hagel is out of the mainstream of thinking i believe on most issues regarding foreign policy . i expect the president to nominate people different than i would think. i'm going to vote for senator kerry. i don't agree with him a lot, but i think he's very much in the mainstream of thought. chuck hagel , if confirmed to be secretary of defense , would be the most antagonistic secretary of defense toward the state of israel in our nation's history. he has long severed his ties with the republican party . this is an in-your-face nomination by the president to all of us who are supportive of israel .
>> lindsey graham is saying that chuck hagel is out of the mainstream. okay.
>> this is being said, by the way, of a war hero .
>> this is important. a war hero who still carries slab ne shrapnel around with him. and we know him for many different things, but this is a guy that runs the atlantic council , which is about as mainstream an organization as you will get in foreign policy .
>> and we've worked with him a great deal through the atlantic council . he is a realist. he is not from the lindsey graham school of foreign policy but rather from the brent scowcroft school of foreign policy . the dr. brzezinski school of foreign policy , the colin powell school of foreign policy , the george h.w. bush school of foreign policy , the james baker iii school of foreign policy . so if anybody out there wants to say that chuck hagel is outside the mainstream of foreign policy , i suggest they turn the mirror around on them because i suggest anybody saying that of the guy that's running the atlantic council and is from the realist school of colin powell , james baker iii , george h.w. bush , brent scowcroft , zig nbigniew brzezinski.
>> i should point out that i've known him for decades, and he's a friend of the family. so obviously this comes from that point of view as well. i want to get to the bill kristol part of this, alex, and then go to andrea .
>> can we get andrea first?
>> because we just heard lindsey.
>> andrea .
>> you and joe have made the point that he is a mainstream foreign policy expert who is supported by just about every retired military person i know and every retired diplomat. i've got tom pickering. you don't have a more experienced former ambassador than tom pickering coming on our show today. he has universal support. i have not found anyone in the diplomatic community and the established military community who does not support him. he has a very close personal relationship with the president. he's been on the foreign intelligence advisory board . he traveled with jack reed in '08 when the president was running as a candidate, when we all went overseas and did iraq, afghanistan , the middle east and europe trip. so he's got all of those credentials. he ran a business. he's from nebraska . at the same time, they're against him because he endorsed his former senate colleague, bob kerrey , a long shot in nebraska but a medal of honor winner and a fellow vietnam wounded veteran who lost his leg in vietnam . so that's one of the cardinal sins against him. and he is opposed not by all of the mainstream lgbt groups but by some, by a few of them. the human rights campaign , chad griffin, very close to this white house , has said that he appreciates the fact that hagel has apologized for what he said 14 years ago about ambassador harman.
>> so let's see, head of the uso. fought for the updated g.i. bill after 9/11. as andrea mentioned, wounded in war and would be the first soldier to become secretary of defense . but yet bill kristol , editor of the conservative " weekly standard ," said this. "his backers can cite no significant legislation for which hagel was responsible in his two terms in the senate . they can quote no memorable speeches that hagel delivered and can cite no profound passages from the book he authored. they can summarize no perceptive hagelian analysis of defense or foreign policy , and can appeal to no acts of management or leadership by the man they'd have as our next secretary of defense . a long and comprehensive account of american foreign and defense policy in the last 30 years would hardly note his existence."
>> this is a battle between, you know, bill who obviously we know and like as well. he's from the neocon camp. lindsey's from the neocon camp. and chuck hagel is a return to traditional republican foreign policy , which is a constrained, realist bush 41 , colin powell foreign policy , and that's very frightening to people like lindsey graham .
>> look, and all odds are he will be confirmed. it could be rough and tough. to me the big issue, because i assume he'll be confirmed, is can the white house organize, starting with the announcement today, which i'm told will be at 1:00 at the white house , through his courtesy calls to capitol hill , through his confirmation hearings, so he emerges as the secretary of defense who with actually work with republicans on capitol hill because he'll have to deal with the house as well, to do all the things he needs to do, wind down the war in afghanistan , cut the pentagon budget in a way that protects our security, deal with iran , deal with the middle east . he's going to have a big job to do. he's an impressive guy, as mika said, he's got tons of support, as andrea said, but he does have detractors who he's going to have to win over even if they don't vote for him.
>> he has sharp elbows. when i was on the hill, i didn't like the guy. i didn't. a lot of people didn't like the guy. i understand why john mccain wouldn't like a republican senator that endorsed a democrat. i understand. he doesn't play well with others in the sandbox. he certainly didn't when he was in the senate . i got to know him, though, through the years, and we got to know him. we like him. we respect him. he said some things about israel that caused me concerns.
>> but he's going to be the president's secretary of defense . and i just wonder, what's better for democrats politically? if barack obama gets his republican secretary of defense or if republicans who, after deep sixing an african- american woman for secretary of state, now turn and savage one of their own? what's better for barack obama ? because i personally think that republicans killing hagel 's nomination is the best political thing that could ever happen to democrats. because it makes republicans just look obstructionist.
>> well, i'll dial that back a couple points on the meter. the president losing a nomination fight would be bad for him and there would be costs on both sides. i think you're right in the sense that if i think what all of us think is that he will get through. and if they can work this thing in such a way as to highlight his strengths, all of the things we've mentioned here, and make republicans look extreme in the process of trying to bloody him up, it could be a win-win for the president. he gets the guy he wants and makes republicans look bad in the process. i think you have to look at -- watch these guys, watch john mccain on t in the senate who were vietnam veterans have stuck very close to each other in a bipartisan way for a long time. mccain , kerry, bob kerrey , chuck hagel . where does mccain come down on this? very much against susan rice . i find it hard to believe mccain 's going to be against chuck hagel , given the kind of bonds that they have.
>> chuck hagel was against john mccain in 2008 .
>> i'm not saying they weren't against each other on policy matters. we're talking about a confirmation here.
>> didn't he endorse barack obama ?
>> i think he spoke favorably of him.
>> i don't think he endorsed him.
>> unofficial surrogate.
>> again, this is a confirmation hearing where the senate dgives deference to the president. mcconnell , around this "politico" story with quotes from mcconnell 's farewell speech to hagel where he points out that hagel saved mcconnell 's brother in vietnam , so we're not really sure. and singing his praises.
>> that's only in the movie version.
>> it's going to be hard for mcconnell to oppose him vocally here.
>> that kind of sums everything up because if you watched yesterday's "meet the press," i mean, all this talk last week about the president's personality being difficult and unapproachable and isolated, excuse me. watch mitch mcconnell on "meet the press" because that cantankerous statement about the man who saved his brother's life was the one other thing that he said in his entire interview on "meet the press" after the fiscal cliff debacle. so i'm not sure how you negotiate with someone like that. that summed it up. that sums up why the fiscal cliff ended up where it did. he's difficult. i'd stop looking at the president.
>> so mitch mcconnell 's brother's life was saved by chuck hagel ?
>> dragged out of an armored personnel carrier that exploded after hitting a land mine . hagel pulled mcconnell 's brother out.
>> perhaps, willie, he doesn't like his brother.
>> it's not his favorite brother, let's be his favorite.
>> you guys are looking at the wrong person with regard to personalities.
>> that's a tough vote to win.
>> and you're undecided -- i'm undecided.
>> and mcconnell 's quote, earn the respect of his colleagues and has risen to national prominence as a clear voice on foreign policy and national security . i don't know how you walk back those comments.
>> i don't think you do.
>> and yesterday he was lukewarm.
>> but, listen. willie, this goes back to what mika and i saw. there is john mccain in the senate who everybody gives deference to when it comes to foreign policy .
>> we've said it for years. republicans have wanted to be out of afghanistan for years. they've been uncomfortable with this neocon approach for years. and they quietly say we line up behind john mccain . i think john mccain is critical here, but there's no doubt that mitch mcconnell has to understand that crossing a war hero who saved his brother's life, who is in the mainstream far more so than lindsey graham , in the mainstream of u.s. foreign policy , you know, it's going to be a hard guy for mitch mcconnell to vote against.
>> as john points out, mcconnell gushed over chuck hagel when he left the senate . on the floor of the senate , he gave a speech that went on and on about chuck hagel . let's be clear, a lot of this is about israel . you heard lindsey graham say it. john mccain has said it as well. they think chuck hagel will be too soft on iran . he suggested maybe that there should be negotiations with hamas, something that people like lindsey graham reject out of hand. that's a big piece of all this.
>> if they stop him, it will be on israel and iran . that's, i think, the only issue that potentially stops him.
>> remember, he's him, it will be on israel and iran . that's, i think, the only issue that potentially stops him.
>> remember, he's the secretary of defense . the president's policies are what he has put in place to enact. so his positions matter a lot less than barack obama 's positions.
>> so on iran , we have a war hero who would think twice about war. we wouldn't want that.
>>> coming up, "the washington post 's" david ignatius , nbc news political director, chuck todd .
>> you know who else does that, too.
>> it's interesting to me that colin powell , right --
>> -- who actually served in vietnam and saw a lot of his friends' faces blown off and chuck hagel who saw a lot of his friends die. fortunately, thank god, he saved mitch mcconnell 's brother. that's great. but he saw a lot of buddies die. isn't it amazing that chuck hagel and colin powell who actually have been to war and seen the horrors of war firsthand in vietnam are a bit more reluctant to use force. and he's being criticized as being outside the mainstream. maybe he is outside the mainstream of republican political thought for the past ten years.
>> we're all so glad we're still in afghanistan .
>> maybe perhaps we should go back to being the party that we once were. before iraq.
>> the party of george h.w. bush , bent scowcroft, colin powell , condoleezza rice . would not be a bad idea.
>> editor in chief of buzzfeed, ben smith , will join us. headlines with dr. emily senay.
>>> up next, mike allen with the top stories in the "politico playbook."
>>> first, bill karins with a check on the forecast. bill.
>> good monday morning.
>> miami .
>> miami ? miami looks beautiful. low 80s and partly cloudy. not bad at all.
>> roll tide.
>> it will be fun tonight. here's what we're dealing with forecastwise. last week was cold. it was snowing through much of the country. this week is your january thaw . this was last week's pattern. and now this week, all the warm air is coming up from the south. and unfortunately, we will have some rain and thunderstorms in the southeast this week to deal with. maybe a few tornadoes. we'll watch you from texas to louisiana. but everyone else, we're really going to melt a lot of snow this week. temperatures very nice from d.c. to hartford. boston, albany, it will be warmer the end of this week. you've still got a little snow which keeps you a little chilly. look at washington, d.c. the forecast in d.c. is going to be gorgeous. we're talking 60 by wednesday. friday could be in the upper 50s. this lasts all the way through next weekend. so across the country, enjoy this. denver, kansas city , chicago, even minneapolis, up to freezing this time of year is great for you. if anyone's traveling, though, in the pacific northwest , you are the only travel trouble spot. some rain and snow depending on your elevation. that christmas tree 's got to come down soon, doesn't it? you're watching " morning joe ." we're brewed by starbucks.