An anonymous group calling itself “Use Your Mandate” is running ads urging the rejection of Obama’s nominee for Sec. of Defense, former Sen. Chuck Hagel.
At Huffington Post:
Dubbed ‘Use Your Mandate,’ the group … raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to a source close to the group who declined to be named in order to speak openly. Use Your Mandate has already sent out a mailer to 350,000 people that says Hagel’s ‘extremist’ views on Israel, guns, women’s reproductive rights and LGBT issues make him the ‘wrong choice’ for secretary of defense. There is also an anti-Hagel banner ad from the group running on Politico’s website, asking whether he’s really ‘the best person for the job.’
The ads ran on Meet the Press (NBC), Face the Nation (CBS) and This Week (ABC). The HuffPo article reports that the ad will also run on MSNBC “a couple of days” this week.
In 1998, Hagel – as a Republican senator of Nebraska – criticized Bill Clinton’s nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg, James Hormel, as “openly, aggressively gay,” and as HuffPo puts it, “consistently voted against gay rights.”
Since his nomination by Obama, Hagel apologized for the remarks about Hormel, calling them “insensitive.” He also stated his support for the repeal of DADT, and vowed (via HuffPo) he would
… ‘do everything possible to the extent permissible under current law to provide equal benefits to the families of all our service members.’
He also vowed to protect female service members’ reproductive rights and said he supported Israel, two other issues on which Hagel has faced questions and concern.
Use Your Mandate says this isn’t enough, and calls on senators to oppose Hagel “until he provides more answers.”
‘Never in his life, in any public capacity, has he done anything in the positive department for gay rights,’ said the person close to the group. ‘Everything that the group is doing is aimed at starting this discussion, and if he … can’t answer some very basic questions with some familiarity and make some commitments that are really no different than the president’s … , then what’s the point? … What did we fight this election for? Is this the best that we can do?’
More from HuffPo:
The source close to the group said that for now, those involved are choosing to stay anonymous because they are allies with the Obama administration and hesitant to criticize the president publicly or fear retribution or pressure from the White House. …
Criticisms of the Use Your Mandate group came quickly. From OutServe-SLDN, via the HuffPo report, Ex. Director Allyson Robinson:
‘… (W)e are disappointed to see this kind of dirty politics make an appearance in the debate about who our next Secretary of Defense should be. Senator Hagel has appropriately apologized and has taken steps to build trust with our LGBT military families.”
At Buzzfeed, Chris Geidner writes about responses from GetEqual and the Human Rights Campaign. GetEqual is the “direct-action, liberal group that most often challenged” Obama.
Get Equal already has gone on the record in opposition to Hagel for his LGBT record and his larger civil-rights record, and (spokesperson) Yandura was incredulous that the funders of the new ad campaign are attempting to not reveal who is behind the group.
‘It’s laughable that they want to stay anonymous because they are too chicken to criticize the president since they are his supporters. Either this is a serious enough issue to call out the president or not,’ he added.
HRC vice president for communications Fred Sainz said he had not even heard of the new group or the group’s ad.
I have no idea if the Use Your Mandate tactics will be successful toward pushing Obama, and Congress, but it seems clear that they’ve done one thing they said they want: start a discussion. Or based on the responses cited above, it’s probably more accurate to say there’s a potential for discussion: the use of “laughable” and “chicken” don’t exactly sound discussion-like. But then, an anonymous approach makes conversation a bit challenging, too. I’ll admit, I’m a bit skeptical about how “anonymous” this whole thing is, especially for the “insiders.”
What also comes to mind is the “carrot and stick” thing. Any one group may not approve of the “carrot” or the “stick” another group employs, but they usually know how to make use of it, toward their own ends. Sometimes it’s even part of a plan.
Holding Congress, Obama and Hagel accountable is a good and necessary thing. No surprise that different people have different ideas about the best ways to do that.
(Chuck Hagel Attack Ad via Towleroad)