Chuck Hagel has reportedly been confirmed by a vote of 58 to 41. But the real action was on cloture, where — as Andrew reported — 18 Republicans voted to let a final vote on the nomination proceed. No matter how they parse it, these Republicans voted to make Hagel the secretary of defense. They will tell the folks back home that they just voted yes on the “procedural” matter but really opposed Hagel’s nomination. That will not be true. Since Democrats had the votes to confirm Hagel if the 60-vote barrier was surmounted, voting to surmount it assured that Hagel would be confirmed — and everyone knew it.
If the roles were reversed, Democrats would never have let the nominee get confirmed. Thanks to the GOP, we have a Washington where stellar candidates such as John Bolton and Miguel Estrada do not get confirmed, but a pro-Iranian anti-Israeli dolt like Chuck Hagel gets through.
I have a question for Senator John McCain, leader of the pack that says Hagel is “not qualified” to be defense secretary but that nonetheless voted in a way that assured his confirmation. McCain opposes the sequester because, he argues, the cuts to the defense budget are “unconscionable.” So . . . how can it be unconscionable for a country that is well over $16 trillion in debt to cut a defense budget that exceeds half-a-trillion dollars by around 8 percent (meaning baseline defense spending will still be higher than it was in 2007), while it is conscionable to vote to place in charge of the entire defense department a man who is not qualified for the job?
I am open to being convinced that aspects of the military cuts are irresponsible. But why would I pay any attention to doomsday predictions from people who have just knowingly made Hagel the guy responsible for setting priorities?