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Hagel testifies

Confirmation hearings for former Senator Chuck Hagel, a combat veteran of Vietnam and President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, begin today before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

You can watch live here.

A number of concerns– some of them justified– have been expressed about Hagel’s willingness to confront Iran on its nuclear capabilities and his attitude toward Israel. His 2006 comment– “The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here”– was troubling, and I hope he regrets it. He is sure to be asked about it.

On the other hand, as a senator, Hagel consistently supported military assistance to Israel. One can’t say the same about the deputy prime minister of the UK.

Here are his responses to some advance questions (pdf).

Update: Hagel is not doing well. Obama should have nominated someone else for Secretary of Defense. Hagel has an impressive record in many ways, but he has a habit of saying unfortunate things, no matter how he intends them. There were plenty of warning signs that his nomination would run into trouble.