As he gave his farewell speech as departing Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta remarked that he would be hanging out with a "different bunch of nuts" at his walnut farm in California. His first move should be to cancel his cell phone service and hide his TVs in the barn.
Unfortunately, the rest of us are stuck with the nuts in Washington, which brings me to the strange brew surrounding Chuck Hagel's nomination to be Panetta's replacement.
In their latest off-target preventive war, the same gang that gave us the Iraq war fiasco is in full cry. First up, the Senate's answer to Abbott and Costello: John McCain and his tiny sidekick Lindsay Graham. These two self-proclaimed military geniuses are now smearing their former Senate colleague.
This isn't complicated. McCain hates President Obama, Obama nominated Hagel, so Hagel must be destroyed. McCain is even on tape in 2008 telling the world Hagel would make an excellent Secretary of Defense. For his part, Graham is up for re-election in 2014 in South Carolina. He may be in a primary against Attila the Hun. What's great about these guys is when you catch them exhibiting blatant hypocrisy, they double down and keep at it.
The endless war crowd comprised of Fox News, talking heads like Bill Kristol and America's hate radio heroes are terrified their next Middle East war with Iran may be delayed or (gasp!) prevented by sanctions and diplomacy.
Former Congresswoman and State Department official Ellen Tauscher put it best: "Now, especially for the neocons who championed that [Iraq] war, it is payback time. These people carry long grudges. They have lost where [Hagel] has been on the winning side -- on Iraq, on McCain, on Romney. And, obviously, the big sin of Chuck Hagel is to be for the President. They don't have any credibility themselves, so they're using the pro-Israel fig leaf as a way to gain credibility -- and I just find that appalling."
When you compare his detractors to Hagel, an independent-minded war hero who knows the real consequences of ground combat, this is appalling. One would think it might be realistic to have an experienced combat veteran running the DOD to represent the people who fight and die on our behalf. Silly me, the nuts always know what's best for us.