BACKTRACKING

Barney Frank Steps Away From Criticism Of Hagel For Defense Secretary

barney_frankFormer representative Barney Frank (D-MA) was one of the most vocal opponents of nominating Sen. Chuck Hagel for the secretary of defense. But as President Obama is expected to make the nomination official today, the outspoken lawmaker says he’s willing to look past Hagel’s homophobic comments.

“I was hoping the president wouldn’t nominate him,” Frank told the Boston Globe. “[But] as much as I regret what Hagel said, and resent what he said, the question now is going to be Afghanistan and scaling back the military. In terms of the policy stuff, if he would be rejected [by the Senate], it would be a setback for those things.”

When Hagel was floated as a possible candidate for the DoD, Frank didn’t mince words:

“Then-Senator Hagel’s aggressively bigoted opposition to President Clinton’s naming the first openly gay Ambassador in US history was not, as [former] senator Hagel now claims, an aberration. He voted consistently against fairness for LGBT people and there does not seem to be any evidence prior to his effort to become secretary of defense of any apology or retraction of his attack on James Hormel. And to those of us who admire and respect Mr. Hormel, Senator Hagel’s description of him as aggressive can only mean that the senator strongly objected to Hormel’s reasoned, civil advocacy for LGBT people.

I cannot think of any other minority group in the US today where such a negative statement and action made in 1998 would not be an obstacle to a major presidential appointment.”

Frank’s change of heart could have serious significance: He may be voting on the confirmation hearings should he takes Sen. John Kerry’s seat if Kerry becomes Secretary of State.