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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Obama and Lugar and Hagel OH MY!

One way to judge a political candidate is by looking at who they hang out with. When John Kerry said that he would make James Baker or Jimmy Carter his mid east negotiator, it told you much about how he would treat Israel. We have taken Senator Obama to to task because his foreign policy advisor's are vehemently anti-Israel, because his good friend and mentor Jeremiah Wright happens to hate Jews. We have taken him to task because, well frankly "Some of his best friends" are followers of Louis Farrakhan.

Another segment of this mounting evidence of Obama's true feeling about the Middle East, is his affinity with two Senator's who's views on the Middle East and Terrorism, quite frankly, make that last hair on my head stand up, Richard Lugar, and Chuck Hagel:

Hagar on the Loose

These columns have given Senator Obama the benefit of the doubt on concerns that he's anti-Israel or worse (please see the editorials "Primary Colors" of January 18 2008, and "Obama and Israel," of January 9, 2008), but the candidate himself is starting to make it difficult. Feature Mr. Obama's little-noticed interview with Jonathan Alter in the February 4 number of Newsweek, in which, asked "Would you have Republicans in your cabinet?" the presidential candidate replied, "No decisions, but Dick Lugar embodies the best tradition in foreign policy. Chuck Hagel is a smart guy who has shows some courage, even though we disagree on domestic policy."

If Mr. Obama is capable of going into the primaries of New York and California, with their large populations of pro-Israel voters, and praising Senators Lugar and Hagel without realizing what their names mean to the pro-Israel community — well, let's just say that it's enough to make us think that Senator Clinton and President Clinton may be onto something when they say Mr. Obama wouldn't be ready to step into the job as president on Day One. Mr. Obama's answer is all the more troubling to those who marked the Hagel-Lugar problem in the last election, when, in respect of Senator Kerry's affection for the duo, we sketched an answer to the question of "What is Lugar-Hagelism?":

One indicator came on July 24, 2001, when the Senate voted 96 to 2 to renew the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act. The act helps deny Iran and Libya money that they would spend on supporting terror or acquiring weapons of mass destruction. The two senators who opposed the measure? Messrs. Lugar and Hagel.

Another indicator came on November 11, 2003 when the Senate, by a vote of 89 to 4, passed the Syria Accountability Act authorizing sanctions on Syria for its support of terrorism and its occupation of Lebanon. Mr. Hagel — along with Mr. Kerry — didn't vote. Mr. Hagel met in Damascus in 1998 with the terror-sponsoring dictator, Hafez Al-Assad, and returned to tell a reporter about the meeting, "Peace comes through dealing with people. Peace doesn't come at the end of a bayonet or the end of a gun."

Feature, as well, the lineup on April 6, 2001 when 87 members of the Senate sent President Bush a letter saying Yasser Arafat should not be invited to meet with high-level officials in Washington. The letter also faulted the Palestinians for using violence against Israel Messrs. Lugar and Hagel did not sign the letter. When, on May 22, 1998, the Senate, by a vote of 90 to 4, passed the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act, imposing sanctions on foreigners who help Iran's missile program, Mr. Lugar fetched up among the four senators who voted against the measure.

These columns, in a July 10, 2003, editorial headlined "Ayatollah Lugar," have already reported on how Mr. Lugar watered down the Iran Democracy Act that was introduced by Senators Brownback, Schumer, Kyl, Inouye, and others. On April 18, 2002, when the Senate, by 88 to 10, voted to ban the import to America of Iraqi oil until Iraq stopped compensating the families of Palestinian Arab suicide bombers, Messrs. Lugar and Hagel were among the handful who voted to bring in the oil.

Our editorial four years ago concluded, "The bottom line is that Messrs. Hagel and Lugar (Hagar, is how their names can be contracted) want a weaker stance than most other senators against the terrorists in Iran and Syria and the West Bank and Gaza and against those who help the terrorists. They are more concerned than most other senators about upsetting our erstwhile allies in Europe — the French and Germans — who do business with the terrorists."

It may be that Mr. Obama and many others like him aren't familiar with the details of Hagar's record. Many now perceive Mr. Hagel as the Republican who fell away from President Bush during the Battle of Iraq. Even Mayor Bloomberg has reportedly dallied with the Nebraskan. Mr. Lugar is seen as an old hand who represents the old George Herbert Walker Bush type of Republican foreign policy establishmentarianism. These details are significant, as they indicate how defeatism in Iraq is just a symptom of a broader weakness in confronting our enemies.

* * *

Early last month, we defended Mr. Obama "as having chosen to put himself on the record in terms that Israel's friends in America, at least those not motivated by pure political partisanship, can warmly welcome." But if the senator ends up aligning himself with the Lugar-Hagel tradition in the Republican Party, his actions will start to belie his words. Hagar's is an extremist minority. It stands against the bipartisan consensus in the Senate that wants a hard line against the terrorist enemies of Israel and America. Either Mr. Obama doesn't know for what Messrs. Lugar and Hagel stand, in which case, he's ignorant, or he does know and embraces it, in which case, he spells trouble for the cause of our country in this war and for those Americans who stand with the state of Israel. It will be illuminating to see whether Mrs. Clinton spurns the "Primary Colors" type of whispering campaign that was mounted in Florida, and about which we wrote on January 18, and instead confronts the issue of Messrs. Obama, Lugar, and Hagel out in open debate and before New Yorkers go to the polls.

One of the brilliant things about America is that you can vote for who ever you want. Those of you who want to vote for Senator Obama on 'Tsunami Tuesday" please exercise your right. But if you do PLEASE don't try to tell me that you did so because Obama is good for Israel, not only does that show your lack of attention to the evidence, it will make me pull out that one last hair on top of my head.

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