Meet the Press | February 03, 2013
>> david, i want to start with chuck hagel . you heard what leon panetta said. the political knives were out.
>> it was him. you ever had this nightmare you're back in college, you've been nominated to be the defense secretary , you haven't done any studying all term, and the confirmation hearing is in five minutes? it looked like that. unprepared. even to defend himself. look strong. he's being attacked for his integrity, honesty. hit back. demand some time. defend yourself. you've got to do that because you have to have the confidence of the president to get the job and the confidence of the generals in the building. this is a problem. if i were chuck hagel , i'd go to the president right now and say, do you still have confidence in me? do you think i can do the job?
>> you would offer to withdraw?
>> you have to if you think you won't be effective because of what's happened.?? i think you have to ask privately that question.
>> ana , a lot of the conversation that the white house is trying to say, this was all politics. let me play a clip of your old boss questioning chuck hagel .
>> were you correct or incorrect when you said that the surge would be the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since vietnam? were you correct or incorrect? yes or no.
>> my reference to the --
>> are you going to answer the question, senator hagel ? the question is, were you right or wrong? that's a pretty straightforward question.
>> well --
>> i would like the answer whether you were right or wrong, and then you are free to elaborate.
>> well, i'm not going to give you a yes or no answer on a lot of things today.
>> well, let the record show you refuse to answer that question.
>> ana , the viewers may not know the history between hagel and mccain . they were close friends in 2000 . not so in 2008 when it was clear that hagel 's wife was supporting obama and not mccain . was that personal?
>> i don't think so at all. anybody who ever saw mccain grill donald rumsfield knows that this is john mccain . this is his job. they are there to advise and consent, not to rubber stamp . if they are not going to get the scrutiny and tough questions now, then when?
>> why was he so much tougher on chuck hagel than john kerry ?
>> because there are so many inconsistencies with hagel . i have never -- i don't remember a hearing where there were clarifications to clarifications that then had to be clarified. when there were so many, i regret having said that. there were so many what i meant to say, what i should have said, because he was doing a terrible job, because he's not giving answers. john kerry gave answers. we just saw an interview with leon panetta where he gave answers. he answered masterfully. we saw three tough hearings this week. secretary clinton on benghazi. we saw john kerry go through a hearing. and chuck hagel . and you can not compare the first two to chuck haguel. after i watched the hearing, i remembered the lyrics to a country song . you mean i shaved my legs for this? you mean we're having this huge fight over this guy who cannot even articulate our policy towards iran?
>> let's be clear.
>> this performance was not good.
>> two things. i want to go about something that ana just said. if you turned on cspan and hadn't watched tv in the intervening six years, you would think we had 150,000 troops parked right now in iraq . this next defense secretary is not going to deal with iraq and the surge. this was a vanity thing for john mccain to try to approprove to a former friend who disagreed with him that he was right on the surge and that chuck hagel was wrong.
>> what should hagel have said? what would you have told him to say?
>> i think he said correctly, we're going to let history judge iraq , because frankly chuck hagel could have said, senator mccain , i think i might have been wrong on iraq . were you wrong on iraq ? here's the question. none of that is anything that the next secretary of defense is going to deal with. hold on. let's split this into two buckets. there was the totalally out of context questions that won't bear on what the next secretary of defense will do. he seemed unprepared on the questions that quite frankly he knew were coming.
>> he had mock hearings. should he go to the president and say, do you still have confidence in me?
>> i'm reminded through weeks into his first term of the obama administration. time geithner gives a speech at the treasury department about our banking industry and how to save it. three weeks into the administration. three weeks into his tenure. the market dropped 382 points. two weeks ago, tim geithner walked out of the treasury department , four years later, as one of the most influential treasury secretaries in the history of our country. so we get into all of these kerfuffles about one hearing or a few answers. chuck hagel is an infantryman who executed the orders of the secretary of defense and the commander in chief and understands what those people go through, and he'll be a good secretary of defense.
>> i know we talked about this. bill kristol wrote the following, comparing chuck hagel to harriet myers and almost daring them to do with harriet myers . they simply thought she wasn't a first-rate candidate. they were confident that bush and the courts and the country could do better. it wasn't pleasant in 2005 for them to oppose a nominee tore to gi but it was the right thing to do and a willingness to do it was a sign of health of the american conservatives . are you surprised more democrats aren't publicly raising concerns?
>> i am surprised, and i think privately it's, you know, it's window rattling. how much democrats behind the scenes are saying that this was an abiz malperformance by senator hagel . he is the wrong man for the wrong job at the wrong time. and by the way, there were far more questions about the issues that perspectively he would deal with as secretary of defense than his record. the reason why his position on the surge in iraq is so critical is because it speaks to his judgment. but when it comes to iran, let's remember, chuck, he voted against designating the iranian revolutionary guard as a terrorist organization at a time when the intelligence was clear that they were killing u.s. soldiers in iraq . this is somebody who wants to command u.s. troops . the revolutionary guard is killing our troops. and he voted against calling it a terrorist organization .