Our View: Udall Gives Hagel a Pass on Pinon Canyon

February 6, 2013

NO SHOW? Udall asked about Hagel’s positions on gay rights and cyber-security, but did not press him to clarify his stand on Pinon Canyon

After what can only be described as an abysmal performance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, a number of influential Democrats are privately wondering if former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) is up for the job of Secretary of Defense.  Not surprisingly, Colorado’s Senior Senator isn’t one of them. 

In a statement released after the hearing, Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) praised Hagel’s performance and suggested that his testimony clarified his positions on issues important to Udall and, by extension, Colorado.

From our vantage point, however, it looked more like Udall was using his time questioning Hagel to appease special interests that might help him win re-election rather than raising issues critical to constituents in his state.  Take, for example, the issue of the United States Army expanding its Pinon Canyon training facility in Southeast Colorado.

During his tenure as a member of the Senate, Chuck Hagel voted against landowners and in favor of unchecked government authority to “acquire” land for expansion whether landowners wanted to sell or not.  Seems like an issue a Senator representing Colorado should have raised in a hearing to decide who will be the next boss at the Pentagon.

On standing firm with our closest ally in the Middle East, Israel, no one but Udall could walk away from that head-scratching hearing last week with a “better understanding” of Hagel’s position on this critical issue. Like it or not, Chuck Hagel has a long record of criticizing Israel and, confirmation day conversions aside, we’re highly skeptical of his ability to leave those positions aside in favor of strengthening this ever-so-important alliance in months and years ahead.

In short, Udall whiffed.  While we’re not surprised that he chose to stick to White House talking points instead of representing his constituents, we’re still disappointed.

That being said, we’re still holding out hope that Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) continues separating himself from Udall’s drone-like voting pattern like he did on the fiscal cliff tax hike vote.

Senator Udall’s press releases aside, it’s pretty clear that Chuck Hagel is not up to the task of leading the Department of Defense.

We hope Senator Bennet will take a break from raising money to get his liberal colleagues re-elected and say so.

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

One Response to Our View: Udall Gives Hagel a Pass on Pinon Canyon

  1. wrongheifer
    February 8, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    I don’t think it is asking too much to NOT APPROVE Hagel’s appointment….I watched the hearings and the man clearly isn’t capable of the leadership required of the position. If indeed Udall votes in favor of Hagel, it will be to his own political detriment.


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