So the video of Chuck Hagel at the 2009 J Street conference is up and it reveals … nothing.
His prepared remarks were always available for all to see, as I noted yesterday. What’s remarkable is how closely he hews to them. Hagel is not a friend of extemporization. I mean it is word-for-word. The short Q and A afterwards contains little of substance. (The Republican Jewish Coalition thinks Hagel’s "something has to be laid down" during the Q and A suggests he wants to impose a peace plan, but his use is too vague — Hagel seems to want to impose an end to his sentence.)
This should not surprise anyone — as I’ve noted, we covered this in 2009, and there was no there there then, either.
Today, just prior to the video release, Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post reported, my bold:
Senators were tipped off that Hagel departed from his prepared remarks and made controversial comments to the J Street Conference.
Senators who tip Jen Rubin, tip your hats farewell to your tippers — they failed you miserably. Monte Cristo exercised greater freedoms in his cell than did Hagel with his speech.
Rubin finds the following, which I have heard as well, "jaw-dropping:"
J Street volunteered the prepared remarks [to the Senate offices] and said it decided not to provide the complete video for fear that Hagel’s remarks would be taken out of context.
My jaw is firmly clenched.
First, let me get this out of the way — this does not flatter J Street. To go to lengths to protect Hagel, and by extension President Obama, is less than seemly for a non-partisan group.
But, that said, I am not as shocked, shocked as Rubin is at J Street’s skepticism of the good intentions of those demanding the video.
Here’s a for-instance. Hagel made this speech in 2009, when the following was not extraordinary:
I believe there is a real possibility of a shift in Syria’s strategic thinking and policies. For its own self interests… not because they want to do a favor for the U.S. or Israel. If we can convince Damascus to pause and re-consider its positions and support regarding Iran, Hezballah, Hamas and radical Palestinian groups, we will have made progress for the entire Middle East, Israel, and the U.S. Syria wants to talk – at the highest levels – and everything is on the table.
Success on the Israeli-Palestinian track will also contribute to more effective counter-terrorism policies in the Middle East – a development that would make the U.S., Israel, and our Arab friends more secure and the region more stable. The next bi-lateral peace treaty for Israel is with Syria.
Then, this was an outlook shared by Israel. Today, such a postulation would be moronic.
But, you say, not even the most jaded political player would attempt to cast remarks made in 2009 as contemporary.