Hagel puts U.S. national interests first. And sometimes those interests clash with the policies of the Israeli government.
In 1957, President Eisenhower told Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to get his army out of Sinai. Would that disqualify Ike from being secretary of defense because, to quote Kristol, this would show Ike was not "serious about having Israel's back"?
If a senator or defense secretary believes an Israeli action - like bisecting the West Bank with new settlements that will kill any chance for a Palestinian state and guarantee another intifada - what should he do?
Defend the U.S. position, or make sure there is "no daylight" between him and the Israeli prime minister?
As for talking to Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, what are we afraid of?
Harry Truman talked to Josef Stalin and read Vyacheslav Molotov the riot act in the Oval Office. Ike invited Nikita Khrushchev to tour the United States three years after he sent tanks into Budapest.
Much of the battle for the soul of the GOP rests not necessarily on domestic policy but rather foreign policy, particularly after the dubious expeditions in the Mideast promoted by neo-conservatives such as Bill Kristol. Hagel's views would fall in the realist camp and he is less likely to go to war with Iran. The impulse to talk to our enemies is all the more critical given the fiscal imbalances the nation faces. We can't afford to be the world's policeman.
The twist to this story is that Hegel's nomination is in jeopardy not because of badly worded views on Israel but because of liberals upset with past Hagel's views on DODT.