WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — MSNBC host Chris Hayes responded to Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel’s Senate hearing by saying that GOP senators had a “seething theatrical contempt” for the former Nebraska senator.

The “Up With Chris Hayes” host remarked that Thursday’s confirmation hearing for Hagel was filled with aggressive questions from GOP senators such as Arizona Republican John McCain, who held a heated debate over the Iraq War with Hagel.

On Hayes’ Sunday show, he called Hagel’s confirmation hearing “an omnidirectionally embarrassing debacle for everyone involved.” He added, “Republican senator after Republican senator threw questions at Hagel that even by the debased standards of a nominating hearing were the cheapest kind of demagoguery and bullying.”

Hayes also accused senators from both sides of being too aggressive in military terms.

“Perhaps most depressing of all was what seemed to be the underlying assumption of nearly everyone on the dais that American military and foreign policy is doing just great,” Hayes said.

He later added, “As we enter the twelfth year of the longest war in the nation’s 237 years, so many of the senators seemed so intent on laying the groundwork for the next war against Iran that they could hardly trouble themselves to discuss the actual, ongoing war that Hagel would be charged with ending.”

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said “the political knives” came out when Chuck Hagel faced fellow Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing to be Pentagon chief.

Panetta said he was disappointed that Thursday’s eight-hour hearing focused so much on what Hagel had said in the past about Iran, Israel and other matters instead of what he thinks about today’s issues, including the war in Afghanistan, the fight against terrorism, and looming automatic budget cuts and their impact on military readiness.

“We just did not see enough time spent on discussing those issues. And in the end, that’s what counts,” Panetta told NBC’s “Meet the Press” in an interview broadcast Sunday.


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