Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday questioned if former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) even had the “competence” necessary to be the secretary of defense.
During an interview with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Wallace pointed out that Hagel had admitted to misspeaking during his Senate confirmation hearing when he suggested that President Barack Obama favored containment of the Iranian nuclear program.
“Just on the question of competence, just on the question of knowledge, do you really have no second thoughts about Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense?” the Fox News host asked McCaskill.
For her part, the Missouri Democrat agreed that Hagel had not given a good performance during the hearing, but he was more than qualified because of “his time as an enlisted soldier fighting in a war with great bravery and decoration, to running the U.S.O, to serving on a variety of different important bodies that deal with national defense policy.”
“He’s qualified, I think it’s despicable the way his character has been impugned by some people through innuendo an inference,” McCaskill said.
“I’m not impugning his character, I’m impugning his competence — or questioning his competence, to put it more properly,” Wallace interrupted.
“He misspoke the way he said it, and should he be disqualified after a lifetime of service and a resume that clearly supports this position?” McCaskill shot back. “I don’t think he should be, and I think it’s time for us to come together and unite behind him so he can do the best job possible keeping our country safe.”
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), however, bragged that Republicans were actually undermining Hagel’s ability to defend the United States with historic opposition and the first-ever filibuster against a secretary of defense nominee.
“In modern times, we haven’t had a secretary of defense that’s had more than three votes against him,” Coburn observed. “And you’re going to have 40 votes against him or 30 votes, and that sends a signal to our allies as well as our foes that he does not have broad support in the U.S. Congress, which limits his ability to carry out his job.”
Watch this video from Fox News’ Fox News Sunday, broadcast Feb. 24, 2013.