The bad news is that, in the words of yesterday's NYRB article by Elizabeth Drew:
if [Obama] dropped Hagel would he go to bat for anyone? (Or they for him?) The hesitancy to name Hagel or another candidate is already diminishing Obama's stature, erasing more of his post-election glow.(at: http://www.nybooks.com/...)
The good news is that Obama still has time to turn this story into one of rope-a-doping wild-swinging Repugs, NeoCons and AIPAC, who have set themselves up to be knocked down by an Obama counterpunch. Hagel's confirmation, which is likely, would show the limits of their influence, and would further reduce it. Even if some combination of lucky punches or abuse of the filibuster succeeded in derailing his nomination, the move from a whispering campaign to public hearings would further highlight the extremism of Hagel's rightwing detractors (his other detractors are discussed below).
The stakes are very high and broad.
As Drew says about for domestic politics:
What the president decides will bear on: his effectiveness in his second term; any president's ability to form a government; whether an independent voice can be raised on a highly sensitive issue in opposition to the views of a powerful lobby and still be named to a significant government position; whether there is actually a proper nominating system; whether McCarthyite tactics can still be effective more than half a century after they were rejected by a fed-up nation.As Drew says about foreign policy:
And, by the way, what will be the direction of American policy in the Middle East? In particular, how adventurous will we be toward Iran? Have we learned anything from the calamitous foreign policy blunders of the past decade? Iran more than any other single issue is at the core of the opposition to Hagel, and that issue is closely linked to the question of the extent to which the U.S. should be allied with the aggressive policies of the Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toward Iran.As for leftwing critics of Hagel's positions on Gay rights and abortion rights, they deserve to hear some conciliatory comments from Hagel as part of mobilizing Democratic support. They also deserve to be mollified by other appointments.
As for Hagel's old reference to AIPAC and its enablers as "the Jewish Lobby", my view, as a Jew, is that this is only a small taste of the American backlash against Jews that will eventually result if the NeoCons, AIPAC and Netanyahu drag the US into a war with Iran or other adventures.