Scott Galupo laughs at Inhofe and Graham for some of their recent demagoguery:
But I think it’s fair to say that “Iran likes it” belongs in the same file as “The terrorists will win.”
Scott is right that this sort of argument can’t be taken seriously, but it’s worth saying a few more things about how this fits into standard hawkish rhetoric and the campaign against Hagel in particular. In Hagel’s case, his opponents started lying about and distorting his record from the moment his name was first reported as a likely nominee, and they decided to focus obsessively on Hagel’s supposed “animus” or “hostility” to Israel (which didn’t exist) and his mild dissents on Iran policy. Iran’s leadership and Iranian state propagandists presumably don’t care who the next Secretary of Defense is, but they probably found the idea that American hard-liners are pillorying a nominee for the position as “anti-Israel” too good to pass up. We saw something like this a few years back during the 2008 election when Hamas “endorsed” Obama: the same people who had spent countless hours trying to portray Obama as pro-Palestinian took the meaningless “endorsement” as confirmation of their own distortions.
Of course, the only reason the Iranian government would conclude that Hagel is “anti-Israel” is that his opponents have been loudly proclaiming this for weeks, and so their state media end up regurgitating the anti-Hagel propaganda produced by his American opponents. His domestic opponents then use this recycled garbage and fling it at him as confirmation that Iran must “want” Hagel to be Secretary of Defense and demand that Hagel explain why that government would “want” him. Had he been free to speak his mind, he might have said, “The Iranian government thinks this because you and your allies have spent six weeks lying about my record and undermining the Iran policy that you claim to support in order to demonstrate how pathetically conformist you can be.”