By
hardball
updated 12/20/2012 8:48:16 PM ET 2012-12-21T01:48:16

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank told Hardball’s Chris Matthews that a lot of the anger comes from Hagel being one former President George W. Bush’s “most strident critics."

Chuck Hagel, the former Republican Nebraska senator, is coming under fire from neoconservatives after word leaked that President Obama may tap him to be next secretary of defense.

The neocon publication the Weekly Standard quoted a Senate aide who said, “Send us Hagel and we will make sure every American knows he is an anti-Semite.”

The anti-Semitism allegations stem from 2008, when he said the “Jewish lobby” at times “intimidates a lot of people.”

And then there’s an ad from a pro-Isareli group ripping Hagel’s record. It insists Hagel is against sanctioning Iran and has voted against designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. as a terrorist organization.

So what’s behind the animosity against the Vietnam vet and Purple Heart recipient?

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank told Hardball’s Chris Matthews on Thursday that a lot of the anger comes from Hagel being one of former President George W. Bush’s “most strident critics…He just has the view that war is actually your last option.”

Milbank added, however, that Hagel is “not some sort of dove.” He pointing out that Hagel voted for the conflicts in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq. Milbank acknowledged Hagel voted against sanctions in Iran, but only because they were unilateral, while he wanted to do it  “in concert with the world community.”

Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island sang Hagel’s praises on Hardball, arguing the Repubican’s combat experience is a “huge asset.”

“This is someone who has a very sound, realistic view of foreign policy, of military policy,” said Reed.

Video: Why some Republicans are hating on Chuck Hagel

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