Hagel Apologizes for 1998 Gay Slur In bid to appease the left ahead of potential defense secretary nomination By Kevin Spak, Newser User Posted Dec 21, 2012 1:47 PM CST 20 comments Comments Chuck Hagel is seen in this file photo. (AP Photo/Dave Weaver, File) (Newser) – Chuck Hagel apologized today for a 1998 incident in which he described prospective ambassador James Hormel "openly and aggressively gay." Democratic activists have been railing against the incident lately, in light of Hagel's rumored candidacy for defense secretary, Politico reports. "Ambassadorial posts are sensitive," Hagel said in a 1998 newspaper interview. "And I think it is an inhibiting factor to be gay—openly and aggressively gay like Mr. Hormel—to do an effective job." President Obama hasn't actually nominated Hagel yet, but you wouldn't know it based on the battles raging around him—this week, Obama took what Politico describes as an "extraordinary step" by publicly defending Hagel against attacks related to Israel. "My comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive," Hagel said in today's statement. "They do not reflect my views or the totality of my public record, and I apologize to Ambassador Hormel and any LGBT Americans who may question my commitment to their civil rights."