I wish the GOP weren’t blocking Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. It’s a bad precedent in its own right. And, oh by the way, we’re trying to wind down America’s longest war in ways that could be quite difficult. I’m not saying we’re at war should mean that anybody gets through the process. But it certainly shouldn’t mean the GOP invents new ways to dick around.
For the very first time in American history, a cabinet nominee was brought to the Senate floor, filibustered by a minority of members, and came up short of 60 votes.
Former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, President Obama’s choice to lead the Defense Department, faced fierce opposition from members of own party, and ultimately earned the support of 59 senators, which was one shy of what he needed to advance. (The Senate Majority Leader, for procedural reasons, had to switch his vote, so Hagel technically ended up with 58 votes.)
It appeared as recently as last week to have the necessary support to be confirmed, even in the event of a filibuster, but several GOP senators who said they’d allow an up-or-down vote changed their minds in recent days.
So sure, be upset with the process. Be upset that bullshit beats out facts. Be upset for the republic. But don’t be upset for Chuck Hagel.
The same take something out of context and use it to delay and obstruct tactic that has been used on Hagel is noting new in Washington, of course. And it was nothing new when Hagel was in the Senate, but the GOP advanced the tactic quite a bit with one ambassador in particular. When James Hormel was appointed by Bill Clinton to be the ambassador in Luxembourg, even though it was almost the 21st century, some Senators opposed him simply because he was gay. But others took an out of context clip of him laughing as the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence walked by. I remember watching the clip at the time and thinking even in context it seemed fine.
Had Chuck Hagel pointed out that there was nothing wrong, maybe Hormel would have got a vote in the full Senate. Instead he pushed the bullshit line about how Catholics would be offended by laughter and/or gayness and made sure that people don’t pay a price for taking nonsense out of context. If that has come back to hurt Hagel, well that’s one of the few instances of poetic justice in real life. Too bad it had to hurt the rest of the country.