The R's make history by filibustering the Hagel nomination
"This isn’t high school, getting ready for a football game or some play that's being produced at high school. This is -- we're trying to confirm somebody to run the defense of our country, the military of our country." (Watch video of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today on the Senate floor here.)
So they've gone and done it, the Senate R's have: This afternoon, for the first time in history, though they don't like using the word (see below), they filibustered the nomination of a "national security" cabinet position. And they couldn't be prouder. Because these diseased jungle animals were able to prevent the Senate leadership from getting the crucial 60th vote it needed to end debate ("Senate Republicans block vote on Hagel nomination").
Maybe Harry Reid wishes now that he had pushed for a rules change that would have at least required filibusterers to actually, you know, filibuster -- so that the country could at least see them doing their dirtywork. Do you suppose it's just a coincidence that the totally off-off-the-rails Senate R's decided just now that it was safe to proceed with their precedent-shattering shenanigan?
Even now these demented revolutionaries lie their stinking carcasses out. As Rachel Weiner pointed out this evening on WaPo's "The Fix" blo, "They still don't want to call it a filibuster."
"This is not a filibuster," Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) announced on the floor immediately after the vote. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) concurred, saying Republicans weren't trying to block the vote, just asking for more time. "If this is not a filibuster, I'd like to see what a filibuster is," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) retorted. On Wednesday, we explained why Republicans don't consider their block of Hagel's nomination a filibuster.No, that sack of filth Jim Inhofe, a man without a sane cell in his brain, doesn't want to use that word. Why should anyone give a damn what words Crazy Jim does or doesn't want to use? Well, you can read for yourself the tortured word play by which these lying scumbags try to pretend they aren't doing what they've so gleefully done. As I keep pointing out, when you're dealing with right-wingers, it's insane to make any assumption except that every word out of their mouths is a lie.
Republicans don't want to filibuster Chuck Hagel's nomination to be the next Secretary of Defense. They just want to require a 60-vote threshold to end debate on his confirmation on the floor of the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has filed for cloture, saying it's a "shame" that he had to do so.
"We're going to require a 60-vote threshold," Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) told Foreign Policy. But, he added, "It's not a filibuster. I don't want to use that word." Likewise, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) says he now might vote against cloture, which cuts off debate. But he still thinks "a filibuster is a bad precedent" to set for a Cabinet nominee. No Cabinet nominee has been defeated by filibuster; the vast majority receive only an up-or-down vote.
SO WHAT'S IN IT FOR THE R'S?
This morning WaPo "Fix"-master Chris Cillizza was exploring the question "Why Republicans are filibustering Chuck Hagel," and allowing for the shilly-shallying you know is going to creep in a Village stooge talks to self-important pols, the answer turns tout to be what one might have expected: because it makes them feel like big shots, and because they can. Here's the fancier version:
1. There's no downside. While the fight over Hagel is consuming official Washington -- and enraging the Democratic base -- Republican strategists believe that not only are few regular people following all of this, but the former Nebraska senator isn't someone with all that many allies outside of Washington. "He's about as unsympathetic a character as you're ever going to see so the political danger is virtually non-existent," said one senior Senate Republican aide. Added another GOP Senate strategist: "Hagel doesn't have a natural base of grassroots support outside the president and Democratic leaders so it's difficult to see any real backlash developing." Worth noting: A Quinnipiac University poll conducted earlier this month showed that two-thirds of people didn't know enough about Hagel to offer an opinion either favorable or unfavorable.There's no price to pay. Those, it seems to me, are the crucial words.
2. The beefs with Hagel are legit. Several operatives rejected the notion that the Hagel blockade is largely about politics. (Worth noting: ALL fights in Congress are at least 50 percent about politics and often far more than that.) "A number of senators have serious concerns with his lack of experience leading such a massive bureaucracy, in addition to his position on Iran and Israel," said one GOP strategist. "And in some ways, this is part of a broader debate and effort to draw attention to the administration's policies in the Middle East. The longer this nomination is drawn out, the more attention is given to those issues."
3. It's a Republican rallying cry. Republicans thought they would be in the Senate majority right now. And they thought they might also have Mitt Romney in the White House. Neither of those things happened. Instead, Senate Republicans watched their House colleagues ensure they got a worse deal on the fiscal cliff and kick the can down the road on the debt ceiling. In short: The Senate GOP conference needs something to rally around and Hagel's nomination serves as a useful exercise to do just that. (Also, never forget that Hagel is widely viewed as a wolf in sheep's clothing -- a Republican turned kind-of Democrat -- by most of his former colleagues.) "It's always good to have a ‘support your colleagues' exercise when a Senator in your conference is looking for information from the Administration early in a new Congress," explained one aide. "It ensures you're playing as a team going forward. It sets a precedent that the conference will not be rolled."
If I were advising the president, I would be flooding every media outlet in the country with angry denunciations of the treacherous Republicans who hate America so much that to promote their demented ideology and unchecked egos they prefer to have the Pentagon removed from effective control. I would be crusading to make sure that any American who contemplates voting for a Republican knows he/she would be voting for a traitor who wants to see the country destroyed.
Which of course puts the lie to point (2), about Hagel's administrative inexperience -- even though there is a point to be made here. The Post's Walter Pincus made the case the other day ("An image issue for Chuck Hagel"), arguing that his testimony January 31 before the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he "appeared to be unprepared and open to bullying," may have fatally weakened him in the eyes of the people he would have to lead as defense secretary. Among senators, Pincus said, "Enough of his former colleagues will accept the idea that he didn't want to be confrontational or that he was having a bad day."
The people Hagel must worry about are the men and women of the Defense Department for whom the hearing was a first look at their next boss in action. It wasn't a promising start.He cited the case of his friend Les Aspin, who was chair of the House Armed Services Committee when Bill Clinton tapped him to be defense secretary.
If there is one characteristic that marks the military it is preparation -- careful planning, covering all contingencies, firmness, clear questions and answers, personal discipline.
Being prepared is a military habit practiced for that moment when lives may depend on it. It's a quality expected in its leaders.
Aspin was extremely bright and a good politician. But he was casual, if not sloppy, not just in dress but in his habits. He lacked discipline. Meetings with him could start late and go on forever. He loved to explore every relevant aspect of an issue, and even those that weren't relevant.But I don't think the R's who complained to Chris Cillizza about Hagel's "lack of experience leading such a massive bureaucracy" had in mind the ease with which they had bullied and beaten him at his committee hearing. Here's Walter Pincus again:
As one of Aspin's long-term friends, I was among those who warned him that he had to shape up if he took the Pentagon job. His every step would be weighed by the military, from the Joint Chiefs on down the chain of command.
I was sitting in the stands at Fort Myer during Aspin's welcoming ceremony in 1993. I will never forget the murmurs among the officers and enlisted men around me when Aspin, slouching and out of step, reviewed the troops.
Almost immediately he faced complicated issues, but Aspin's easy-going style never gained much respect within "the building" -- the Pentagon. Criticized for Somalia decisions and troubled by a heart problem, he resigned in early 1994.
The irony about Hagel's hearing performance is that it hid his feisty personality and left the impression he could be pushed around. More than a half-dozen times he apologized for making perfectly acceptable statements, sometimes not bothering to correct senators who took those statements out of context.Pincus compared Hagel's performance with John Brennan's subsequent appearance before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:
The nominee to head the CIA clearly had that agency's staff in mind Thursday as he sat before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.In the end, the administration and the Senate majority leadership will probably do what they have to do to get the Hagel nomination to an up-or-down vote and he'll be confirmed -- as an even weaker defense secretary than Walter Pincus was fearing. And the mad-dog Senate R's will have shown once again that the Just Say No-niks are even more firmly in charge than they were in the president's first term.
Several times he corrected or challenged senators. He told Sen. James E. Risch (R-Idaho) he disagreed "vehemently" with the conclusion that Brennan had leaked classified information in 2012. With Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Brennan questioned the accuracy of a news story that was the basis for Coats's questions.
UPDATE: YOUNG JOHNNY McCRANKY'S AGAINST
HAGEL 'CAUSE HE WAS MEAN TO CHIMPY THE PREZ
I was so wrapped up with trying to get this post done amidst a welter of other obligations that I didn't notice Howie's pass-along of a delicious ThinkProgress Security post by Hayes Brown in which Hayes quotes that crack security expert and man of principle Young Johnny McCranky on the tube this afternoon with another intellectual giant, Fox Noisemaker Neil Cavuto:
To be honest with you, Neil, it goes back to there's a lot of ill will towards Senator Hagel because when he was a Republican, he attacked President Bush mercilessly and say he was the worst President since Herbert Hoover and said the surge was the worst blunder since the Vietnam War, which was nonsense. He was anti-his own party and people -- people don't forget that. You can disagree but if you're disagreeable, then people don't forget that.That's right, you heard it from the dripping maw of the Crankyman himself: "If you're disagreeable, then people don't forget that." Honestly, folks, you can't make this stuff up.
If these people were Gong Show contestants, we'd be well rid of them all by now.