Morning Joe | January 08, 2013
>>> the time has come for me to return to my wife, sylvia, our three sons, their family, our six grandchildren, and my walnut farm. dealing with a different set of nuts. [ laughter ]
>> wow. okay. welcome back to " morning joe ." that was funny. that was genuine. mark halperin and harolded for junior are with us and also, the president on council of foreign relations , richard haass . did you think that was funny, richard ?
>> a genuinely nice man, he will be missed? what's nuttier? a walnut farm or washington . speaking of foreign policy advisor -- wh? whoo --
>> i'll just get up and leave.
>> believe me, that was nicer than heilemann at the 6:00 hour. i called him the newman of the show. he's gone. i'm sorry. the people on twitter are with you. they say it's not show.
>> richard and i are here for the best dressed segment, the two guys that were just here.
>> no, i don't think you are. but you might be. you have a nice new tie on. you went in there and what happened?
>> friends of the show --
>> gave you a tie.
>> you look dapper. dan , you look okay, too.
>> caught pulitzer prize winning columnist, msnbc political analyst , eugene robinson is always handsome.
>> glad to be on your good side this morning.
>> good to have you on. we will have general stanley mcchrystal coming up on the next half hour and michael bloomberg coming up in the next hour of " morning joe ." president obama 's choices for his second term national security team are taking shape. former republican senator check hagel , a decorated soldier and vietnam veteran has been tapped to take over the lead at the pentagon. president obama yesterday emphasized hagel 's personal service and connection to the organization he's now been nominated to run.
>> chuck represents the bi bipartisan tradition we need more of in washington . for his independence and commitment to consensus, he's earned the respect to national security and military leaders, republicans and democrats including me. in the senate, i came to admire his courage and his judgment, his willingness to speak his mind, even if it wasn't popular, even if it defied the conventional wisdowisdom. that's exactly the spirit i want on my national security team. when it comes to defense of the country we are not democrats or republicans, we are americans and most importantly, chuck knows war is not a distraction. he understands that sending young americans to fight and bleed in the dirt and mud, that's something we only do when it's absolutely necessary. my frame of reference, he has said, is geared towards the guy of the bottom, who is doing the fighting and the diel.
>> we've gone over the past 24 hours , richard haass , his experience as a war hero , soldier, ceo and as a member of the senate. if you could give us your take on the hagel nomination as it pur tain pertains to hagel , kerry, brennan, the trifecta, if all go throug through.
>> the national security council starts looking like the foreign relation relations committee. these people are all comfortable with one another. there's a high comfort level. you won't hear all this talk of team of rio and brothers and the rest. this is going to be people who are closer, experienced washington hands. i think to some extent what you're seeing is a certain skepticism about the use of military force . but brennan aside, a second set of issues. you look at the principle foreign experiences, what have they been, iraq and afghanistan . two wars of choice, large undertakings, i would think two rank advised. iraq from the get-go and i think they come into office with big questions about this, all now against the backdrop of parts of the world other than the middle east suddenly looking unsettled, specifically asia pacific and against the backdrop of growing american economic problems and you have a different mindset and i think it's appropriate to this moment in history.
>> to add, when you bring up afghanistan , it makes me think about his service in vietnam . for some soldiers there now might question what's going on? do people even know they exist and what they're fighting for because there is a disconnect in this country, as we know. it must be frustrating for the soldiers serving and giving his or her life everyday in repeat tours of duty in the this endless war of afghanistan and i would think someone like senator chuck hagel would understand the mindset of a soldier in afghanistan .
>> absolutely right. and hagel will understand like the people in afghanistan now you're not really spending your day involved in geopolitical abstractions of foreign policy debates, you're there for your own survival and survival of the man or woman next to you, it's focused on day-to-day realities something hagel underwent in vietnam unlike afghanistan unpopular. vietnam wildly controversial. iraq and afghanistan , more importantly, the whole relationship between american society and the military has changed, far more positive in the way we look upon these people who made this extraordinary sacrifice and extraordinary commitment. still, this is a difficult time. chuck hagel will be there and i think he will be there, get confirmed and be there for most of the winding down of afghanistan , a residual force, a few thousand people. more important, just as important, he will be there for serious budget cutting. the biggest challenge facing the secretary of defense how to go from something like north of $500 billion a year for defense to something south of it? how are we going to allocate those cuts and allocate the presence and use of assets we still have. very big decisions?
>> given those last questions, dan senor , do you think chuck hagel is a good pick?
>> i don't. i have tremendous respect for him, his military service . he truly is an american hero . we had secretaries of defense who served in the military and secretaries of defense who haven't. don rumsfeld , macnamara served in the military. it is an important attribute. i don't think it is the definition of criteria for secretary of defense . thick there will be questions.
>> why doesn't he meet the criteria of success for secretary of defense .
>> here's the thing. there will be confirmation hearings and things to be asked. one is this question whether or not chuck hagel has been outside the mainstream bipartisan consensus on a range of foreign policy issues, national security issues, particularly the ones this administration will be dealing with in this next term. take iran . do the math. sanctions against iran . chuck hagel has been against sanctions. he said sanctions against iran , the kind the president supports would isolate americans . the senate voted 96-2, one of two senators to vote against it. sanctions against syria in the early part of the 2000 . 89 senators voted for it. he voted against it. a letter to the eu asking the eu to designate hezbollah a terrorist organization . 88 senators signed it. he was one of the ones who didn't. when there was a letter to russia asking to deal with the rising tide of anti-semitism in russia. 99 senators signed the letter, one did not, chuck hagel . he has the right to have those interviews but there is a bipartisan consensus in washington illustrated by the math outside it. the question is why does the president want that in the discussion? why does he want that person with those judgments running the pentagon at this time? those are important questions to be explored during the hearing.
>> he should have the opportunity to answer that. he has made clear on matters that impact israel the most in a positive way, i would not have been on the side of senator hagel in those votes, important to answer it and important to look at his entire record. on the things that matter most with u.s. policy and our great ally, israel , he has been as responsible as any when it comes to financial support snow democrats are -- senator ben cardin , a prominent democrat said, i'm not sure i have serious questions and chuck schumer has weeks to weigh in and with holding. why are democrats holdingback if he has such a normal view. in the confirmation hearing will be vital. you prejudged and said no. thankfully we have democrats who say we want to hear answers to this. i'm a democrat and give him the benefit of the doubt to many arctticulated by richard . he served in the military and has an open mind and supported things and you may disagree with him i give him great credit for having an open mind and being mature to saying i can evolve.
>> at this point in confirmation hearings what we call the top four cabinet post, state, defense , treasury, justice, the president normally gets members from both parties coming out saying we're behind whoever you pick. okay. this is not a normal case. i've never seen so many senators holding back, particularly senators from the president's party, for a defense pick.
>> so what? that's also because of the politics, the fact he was put out there and he had a -- his name was out there for weeks.
>> let me say one thing, dan senor . yesterday on " morning joe ," from the " washington post ," dave ignatius was on the show. i want to take a quote from that conversation. he says this about hagel and israel . chuck hagel , like almost any member of congress i can think of j has been a strong supporter of the u.s. military relationship with israel . he's voted time and again to support various resolutions and authorizations. if you look at all the votes, all the things he has done as senator, you will find a strong supporter of israel security.
>> i'm simply saying just look -- i appreciate what david said. i'm citing you actual votes. july 24th , 2001 , there's a major vote on iran libya sanctions act . the vote was 96-2.
>> can you pull up others as well? you can't.
>> no. he actually has voted for foreign aid to israel . i'm simply saying the united states is going to be dealing with major issues like iran and syria . these are major issues in the region. i'm simply saying he's had very strong views on this, very much a minority view on this. i'm saying shouldn't that be part of the discussion? shouldn't senators be allowed to ask him serious questions behind this before they get behind the president's confirmation.
>> i think it's important we have a secretary of defense some what wary of the use of military forces . that is healthy in american foreign policy . not an abstraction.
>> senator mccain released a statement agreeing with you, i have serious concerns about the positions senator hagel has taken 0en a range of critical national security issues in recent years. it is a tad bit in contrast to what he said back in 2006 when he was preparing to be president, mccain was asked whether he'd consider hagel for a cabinet post and he "new york times" quote i'd be honored to have chuck with me in any capacity. he'd make a great secretary of state. eugene robinson chime in.
>> all these questions will be asked at the confirmation hearings. frankly think in the end, the senators will be satisfied with chuck hagel 's answers. he's not going to be setting administration policy. administration foreign policy is being set in the white house basicall basically, with consultation with the cabinet members obviously. president obama is going to be setting policy. what chuck hagel is going to be doing is cutting the budget in the filigree and pentagon and to a certain extent, i think, managing this o sort of shift in focus president obama has talked about toward the asia pacific region where trouble is a-brewing and we better pay attention to it. i think those two tasks are what chuck hagel is going to be asked to do. those are the questions and answers i will be paying particular attention to.
>> joining me is chief white house correspondent and political director and host of "t "the daily rundown," chuck todd . you heard dan senor , who vehemently has pretty strong opinions about chuck hagel . i don't know about this opposition. it seems very singular and extreme. i haven't read or played john cornyn in a while. it seems like we have to go back to the same old well to find the opposition. am i wrong or is there growing opposition?
>> i think you're right it is singular. i want to pick up on a point dan was making and noting, asking, i don't know if it was a question of harold or rhetorical question about why are there a handful of democrats , i don't know if we want to measure yet so many, why are there some significant democrats , chuck schumer , ben cardin , i heard about others, maybe barbara boxer , others, why are they not effusive in saying they're rallying around, they will definitely support chuck hagel , they don't want to take a tough vote, don't want to take a vote on hagel if it turned into a tough vote on israel , bottom line . israel is a subject areas in foreign policy that can get turned into domestic politics and can get turned into something a politician or elected official hears about at home or somebody who's a donor or supporter. that's why you'd see the hand wringing, why i bring up the question dan posed earlier, you see the hand wringing. you get the sense democrats wish the president didn't do it because they don't like to take tough votes. will they be there at the end? yes. as long as there's not something else. hagel is in that precarious position, if this is everything we know, he's going to make it through, not going to be the normal bipartisan way most of the major cabinet secretaries get but he'll get through. if there is another thing, an inelegant way hagel handles himself at the confirmation hearings, you can see his support right now is sort of what i call an inch deep, if he's not careful.
>> mark halperin .
>> obviously, this will proceed on a track parallel to the next round of fiscal cliff talks. any sign yet when his courtesy calls to senators start and date for confirmation hearing? i hear it's going to be pushed back a bit beyond the normal interval.
>> reporter: we haven't heard yet and a lot of them are out of town and some are taking place via telephone. we don't yet. you heard, i think there was was -- the president didn't just decide to say, hey, it's critical we get these folks confirmed, we don't want to have gap in foreign policy . that wasn't just a throw away line, as you know, that was because they're getting concerned this was not proceeding on as speedy a track they would like to see when it comes to getting the confirmation hearing set up and getting this moving forward. i have a feeling we may be -- i don't know if chuck hagel is going to be in person listening to the president's state of the union , put it that way. i don't know if it gets done by then.
>> he clearly has a problem, hagel does on the right with republicans, and there was talk potentially on the left with gay rights supporters. does that seem to you have been put to rest or still a potential threat for him?
>> i don't think that's much of a potential threat. i think he probably -- this mice guess, hear him say his views on gay rights have evolved as have the views of many americans and frankly the spectacle of the republican party waving the banner of gay rights is one i'd like to see, kind of interesting to watch but i don't think we will see much of that.
>> richard haass .
>> yesterday, you got confused on this show an had chuck hagel serving with senator mcconnell's brother. some of his fans are getting him confused with the german philosopher . this is chuck hagel the senator actually in the foreign policy mainstream not this 18th century german philosopher . his name is spelt differently.
>> when hagel 's name was put out, about washington foreign policy issues, writing a column the reason chuck hagel should be confirmed because he's outside the mainstream. many champions making the case for highway twelve was that he was outside the mainstream and needed to shake up the foreign policy discussion. for hagel . and those discussions about he's outside the mainstream, we should have a vigorous debate of chuck hagel , then we're smear merchants? we say he's outside the mainstream and reason for debat debate.
>> are there questions around israel and security and you can allay your concerns and even some republicans.
>> i think over the next several years this administration has to be dealing with iran and syria and really complicated issues not just about israel . he should explain why his world view is so not only outside the mainstream of the congressional bipartisan congressional consensus, outside the administration's consensus. even yesterday in an interview he gave, he said the reason he opposed certain sanctions in congress because they didn't work. those are some of the sanctions today the administration says is key to the success in iran and why the economy is still weakening. he's saying those sanctions didn't work. he needs to explain.
>> he'll have that opportunity.
>> richard , you look so patient.
>> i am a patient man.
>> eugene, thank you very much.
>> eugene's column discusses shanahan's decision to leave rg3 in the game.
>> he was wrong. reckless endangerment. there ought to be an arrest warrant.
>> check that out. and we'll be back on " morning joe ." richard and dan stay with us. general stanley mcchrystal discusses his new memoir and mayor michael bloomberg announce his new initiative, announcing today. at 1:45,