The President noted that Hagel has since apologized for that mistake. This ended Gregory's chance to make news by asking Obama what he thought of the objections raised against Hagel by extremist pro-Israel voices.
The narrative dictated by the neocons prefers to "persuade" President Obama to look away from Hagel and turn to a neocon-approved candidate. The next two possible appointees, Ashton Carter and Michele Flournoy, are currently in the defense department hierarchy.
Philip Weiss, cofounder of Mondoweiss, has followed the Hagel story on a daily basis. On January 1, he reported:
"Rightweb, which maintains dossiers on militarists in foreign policy, has just posted new profiles of Hagel's purported rivals Ashton Carter and Michele Flournoy. They are both neocon-friendly; the dossiers remind us that neoconservatism is deeply engrained in the D.C. establishment ...
"The profile of Carter makes him out to be an Iran hawk with deep ties to the defense industry. 'Carter has been adamant in his insistence that the United States consider the use of force in its efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons programs.'
"He was part of a 2008 report on Iran, coauthored by a bunch of neoconservatives, that Jim Lobe characterized as a 'roadmap to war.'"
Elizabeth Drew concluded her blog posting on Hagel and his senatorial critics, by calling them out for duplicity.
"[T]hese senators, employing one of the talking points that had been circulated on the Hill and published in [Bill] Kristol's Weekly Standard, had simply indicated that the Senate Armed Services Committee's consideration of a Hagel nomination would be rough. These innocuous statements, devoid of any real meaning, were strictly tactical. Not a single one of them said that they would vote against Hagel. (As of this writing exactly one senator, John Cornyn of Texas, has said that he would vote against the nomination.)"
The neocons driving this "controversy" prefer to have Hagel's name dropped before senate hearings are held. A few hard-core senators (starting with John Cornyn) would oppose a respected former colleague. But what the neocons want to avoid is to have Hagel's name go forward.
Elizabeth Drew explains:
"Hearings could also expose the emptiness of their charges and put on display Hagel's considerable array of supporters. That such substantial Senate figures as Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and Jack Reed, also a major figure on defense issues, have announced that they strongly support Hagel has gone almost without notice.
"In addition to a senate committee and full senate vote which Hagel would very likely win, the neocon driving this narrative would not want to have to admit to the American public just how much support Hagel has in what Drew describes as 'a much larger and more peace-oriented segment of pro-Israel opinion [which] strongly supports Hagel's nomination.'"
"These organizations do not assume that particular policies of the Israeli government of the day are necessarily in Israel's interests.
"Hagel has had quite friendly relations with J Street, founded a few years ago to try to offset AIPAC'S influence, and with the Israel Policy Forum, and has given keynote speeches to both organizations.
"A wide swath of former national security officials also support Hagel's nomination as Defense Secretary, including Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, as well as most of the former US ambassadors to Israel. Hagel also holds the highly prestigious position of co-chair of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Committee."