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Bret Stephens | Chuck Hagel is an opportunist





In 1998, when it was politically opportune for Mr. Hagel to do so, he bashed Clinton nominee James Hormel for being "openly, aggressively gay," a fact he said was disqualifying for becoming ambassador to Luxembourg. Late last year, when it was again politically opportune, Mr. Hagel apologized for his gay-bashing. Mr. Hormel accepted the apology, while noting that "the timing appears to be self-serving." Yes it did.

In 1999, when the military’s "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell" policy was broadly popular, Mr. Hagel scoffed at the idea of repealing it: "The U.S. Armed Forces aren’t some social experiment." Since then, Mr. Hagel has offered his opinions on many subjects in scores of published articles. In not one of them did he recant or amend his views on gay issues. His public about-face only occurred when his name made Mr. Obama’s shortlist for secretary of defense.

In 2002, also when it was overwhelmingly popular, Mr. Hagel voted for the resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq. The lack of political courage is especially noteworthy here, because Mr. Hagel was, in fact, prescient in warning his Senate colleagues that "imposing democracy through force in Iraq is a roll of the dice."

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