I heard Sen. Lindsey Graham on the radio the other day saying that Chuck Hagel is outside the American “mainstream” on his foreign policy and defense views. I don’t believe that’s true for a second, but in any case, I agree with Andrew Sullivan, who says, “Who would want to be in the mainstream in Washington in the first decade of the 21st century?”

Here’s TAC’s Daniel Larison on an anti-Hagel rant by the tiresome and unaccountably petulant Peter Lawler:

This is just extremely poor analysis. No one is playing a “trick” on Republican hawks. They could refrain from panicking over the Hagel nomination if they weren’t so eager to denounce anyone who deviates even a hair’s breadth from hard-line policies. It seems that they cannot help themselves. These Republicans “project” the “McCain perspective” because they share it or because they think it is politically necessary for others to think that they share it. Why might the “McCain perspective” be unpopular at the moment? Perhaps because it is a perspective that incessantly demands the waging of unnecessary wars in countries where the U.S. has nothing at stake?

Look, I understand why neoconservatives and other foreign policy idealists oppose the more realist-oriented Hagel on principle, which is not the same thing as opposing him with a smear campaign. But I fail to see where being inside the supposed “mainstream” of US foreign policy and national security decisions over the past 12 years has been advantageous to the US. Here’s Larison slapping around Rick Santorum over the latter’s anti-Hagel posturing:

Santorum really is the hawkish gift that keeps on giving. If there is one current or former elected official other than John McCain who embodies everything wrong with the Republican Party’s current foreign policy thinking, it would have to be Rick Santorum. It’s appropriate that Santorum is launching an anti-Hagel campaign, because he is in some important respects the anti-Hagel in terms of temperament and foreign policy views. Where Hagel was a grudging supporter and later critic of the Iraq war, Santorum was an unflinching supporter of the invasion and occupation, and he remains so until now. As wary of war as Hagel can be because of his experience in combat, Santorum is the classic example of the heedless activist/ideologue whose obsession with talking about foreign policy issues is equaled only by his staggering ignorance of the rest of the world.

Faced with the debacle in Iraq, Santorum not only failed to learn anything from that, but railed against the Bush administration for being insufficiently aggressive towards Iran and other countries. The disaster in Iraq caused Hagel to become more skeptical and prudent about the use of force. Santorum concluded from the same experience that the U.S. needed to become even more confrontational in its dealings with every pariah state and the major authoritarian powers.

Is Hagel out of the GOP mainstream? Probably. Thank God.