Morning Joe | January 31, 2013
>>> standing here at this desk that once belonged -- at that desk that once belonged to president kennedy and to ted kennedy , i can't help but be reminded that even our nation's greatest leaders and all the rest of us are merely temporary workers. i'm reminded that this chamber is a living museum , a lasting memorial to the miracle of the american experience .
>> senator john kerry yesterday, getting emotional during his final address on the senate floor. kerry ended a 27-year senate career after getting confirmed to replace hillary clinton as secretary of state. tough questions are expected at today's confirmation hearing for chuck hagel . the president's nominee to be the next secretary of defense. hagel is expected to offer his views on the deep budget cuts facing the pentagon, if lawmakers are unable to avoid sequestration. on iran , the former senator has told congress in written remarks that meddle be prepared to strike that country if necessary, but stressed the need to be cautious and certain when considering the use of force . vice president joe biden yesterday defended hagel and john kerry from critics who say they're concerned the president's new national security team would be hesitant to act.
>> to suggest that two war heroes won the bronze star , purple heart , silver star , taking over both the state department and defense is a -- or whatever the phrase was -- is ridiculous.
>> all right. so, fortunately, on john kerry 's senate career in that moment, moving on, i just watched you watching barnicle, and i was wondering what you were thinking, given him.
>> you know, i tell you what i was thinking. i was thinking that it's very rare for senator kerry to show public emotion. i've seen him do it on one other occasion, at a funeral service , where he eulogized a young guy who served with him in vietnam. he broke down on the altar. we saw him break down yesterday. obviously, part of it is because his senate career has concluded, but part of it is because of the relationship that he had and forged over his time in the senate with ted kennedy . they became very, very close with one another.
>> and dan seymore, looking ahead to chuck hagel and testimony in the confirmation process, still have, i'm sure, deep concerns.
>> yes. but what's interesting if you could contrast kerry and hagel , there's this myth out there the senate is this club, and these guys, males and females, just take care of one another. and the reality is, if you look at the contrast between each one of hagel and kerry 's received, kerry passed, was confirmed in the senate by 96 senators. an amazing number, overwhelming support. hagel is, shall we say, cruising upstream, because of big differences that people have with him upon iran , on israel, on the defense budget , on a whole range of issues, on syria. so they're not just saying, hey, you're one of ours and we're going to be with you, like they did with kerry , they're saying, we have real fundamental differences with you and you'll have to explain them. hagel has said his views have changed. i think he'll get tough questions today. when did they change and why kid they change.
>> and he deserves to have those questions asked. i think he'll answer them all sufficiently. we've had this conversation on air. i hope he is confirmed. i don't think he'll get the 96 votes, but i think he'll surprise you in the big majority that he eventually gets, if he answers those questions well, which i have confidence he will.
>> i agree with you, the vote will surprise you, i think.
>> i -- well, i think in either scenario, given the resistance he has met so far, and even if it's a confirmation but not a big number, i think he will be a very weak secretary of defense, and a number of the issues related to the pentagon will ultimately be run out of the west wing .
>> but part of the opposition to him, i would have to say, even looking at it from a neutral point of view , has been offensive. to be labeled as an anti --
>> let's talk about this, this is important. the supporters of senator hagel , many of them, cite his positions on iran , why he'd be this great independent voice. they cite his positions on israel. they cite his positions on hezbollah and terror groups and all these other matters. why is it okay for his supporters to cite those issues, the very votes, right, like when he was one of two senators to vote against sanctions against iran , some people think that's a good thing. when people say, you know, it's independent and free wheeling speaking when he says that the israeli israelists kept the palestinians penned up like animals. but the opponents can't say, you want to raise those issues, we think it speaks to his judgment. i think there's fundamental problems with the things he said and voted on.
>> i have no problem with that critique you just outlined. but i have a problem with extracting his positions and labeling an individual anti-semitic.
>> i'm not for labeling people anything. i'm simply saying, many of the criticisms is, what speaks the to judgment? what is the judgment that led a man to vote this way and say the things that he said? and that's certainly fair game for a hearing. that's my view, at least.
>> and we'll have more views coming up, because coming up in just a few minutes, senator claire mccaskill , part of the committee considering chuck hagel 's nomination will join us. and up next, the gun control debate. former congresswoman gabby giffords calls for reform while a top senator says six bullets in a gun just might not be enough. we'll be back in a moment. hey!