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.

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  • BJ McFrisky

    Note to Barney: You retired, dude. That means you decided not to have anything more to do with public office. So why are you suddenly weighing in on possible cabinet nominations and throwing your hat in the ring for MA senator? Perhaps you should look up the definition of “retire.”

  • jwrappaport

    How quickly we change our tune when opportunity knocks. Barney assumes that Hagel is the only potential nominee who wants to end our war in Afghanistan. Or perhaps he’s trying to transparently hedge his bet to get a Senate seat. Tough one.

    There is absolutely no reason why Obama can’t nominate someone else who also favors scaling down our operations in Afghanistan, but who doesn’t present a danger to LGB servicemembers.

  • alterego1980

    I think people should understand that Barney Frank was voicing his opinion in the hope that Hagel would not be nominated, and hopefully to try and influence the president to that end.. But now that he has been nominated, Frank is resigned to the fact that he is well suited to perform the tasks facing the next SoD. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. Frank said his piece and said it well. Unfortunately it didn’t work. His efforts are now better spent on another matter.

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