[CORRECTED] Chuck Hagel and the Mysterious "Anti-Semitic" Quote

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 17 2012 1:12 PM

[CORRECTED] Chuck Hagel and the Mysterious "Anti-Semitic" Quote

Correction, Dec. 19, 2012: This whole post is based on some flawed reporting. As you'll see below, I noticed that a quote appearing in a memo criticial of Chuck Hagel was not in the book being cited. The quote was actually given to the author, but not used—something I could have checked had I contacted the author. (Because the memo was anonymous, I didn't contact its author, as I would normally do.) It's not my policy to shoot bad items down the memory hole, so the original post remains printed below, and a full correction is here.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

Bill Kristol's become the public, famous face of a pretty widespread campaign against the possible DOD nomination of Chuck Hagel. Kristol's written so much about the former Nebrasaka senator, for so long, that he's now publishing a sort of greatest hits. His latest post is the text of a memo "circulating widely on Capitol Hill," attempting to prove -- let's not be cute about it -- that Hagel is an anti-Semite. Hagel's quoted as referring dismissively to "the Jewish Lobby," and say no more.

“The political reality is that … the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.” (Hagel interviewed in Aaron David Miller’s 2008 book The Too Much Promised Land)
Advertisement

Via Justin Raimondo*, I think I spot a problem. The quote isn't merely redacted. It's partly fabricated. Miller calls Hagel "honest," and describes his way of thinking without quite endorsing it -- and without saying he's got an issue with the Jews.

"This is an institution that does not inherently bring out a great deal of courage," Hagel continued. "Most of the time members play it safe and adopt an 'I’ll support Israel' attitude. AIPAC comes knocking with a pro-Israel letter, and 'then you’ll get 80 to 90 senators on it. I don’t think I’ve ever signed one of the letters.'
When someone would accuse him of not being pro-Israel because he didn’t sign the letter, Hagel told me he responds: "‘I didn’t sign the letter because it was a stupid letter." Few legislators talk this way on the Hill. Hagel is a strong supporter of Israel and a believer in shared values. "The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here," but as he put it, "I'm a United States senator. I'm not an Israeli senator."

The "political reality" line, which makes Hagel sound like he's importing even greater power to the Jews, doesn't appear. Anywhere. Earlier in the book, the author himself argues that "too often American political leaders and diplomats have forgotten that 'fair and effective' means refusing to give Israel carte blanche to influence, let alone impose, its views on America's tactics and strategies." But half of this "Hagel" quote is fake.

Maybe it doesn't matter. The idea that Hagel would slide through the Senate -- hey, he used to be in it! -- ignores just how much time he spent whaling on fellow Republicans during the last half of his second term.

*Raimondo and I aren't exactly foxhole buddies.

For the fuller story behind this erroneous post, see my full correction here.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Natasha Lyonne Is Coming to the Live Culture Gabfest. Are You?

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

Tattoo Parlors Have Become a Great Investment

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
Behold
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Honcho Says Celebs Who Keep Nude Photos in the Cloud Are “Stupid”
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 2 2014 11:01 AM It Wasn’t a Secret A 2013 inspector general report detailed all of the Secret Service’s problems. Nobody cared.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 2 2014 9:19 AM Alibaba’s Founder on Why His Company Is Killing It in China
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Oct. 2 2014 10:42 AM The Hanging Coffins of Sagada
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 2 2014 10:36 AM How Bad Will Adam Sandler’s Netflix Movies Be?
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 2 2014 11:01 AM Surge Pricing Is Not Price Gouging
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 2 2014 9:49 AM In Medicine We Trust Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?