Politics

02.14.13

The Hagel Filibuster

Okay, I'm not going to get in high moral dudgeon about this. The Democrats did do it to John Bolton, and they succeeded in blocking him. And I supported blocking Bolton, so it would be hypocritical of me to be outraged today. In retrospect, I might have been wrong about that. A president should probably have his head on cabinet (and near-cabinet) positions, unless we find out something really terrible about the person.

One could argue that Bolton's gig was not on the same level, although technically, that wasn't a cabinet post (as Republicans see things) and isn't nearly as important as Defense Secretary. You can go for a while without a UN ambassador, but a SecDef is a pretty necessary human being. There's a meeting of Western defense ministers in Brussels next week, and of course there are the sequestration cuts to manage, if they take effect on March 1. One can argue all that, but still one can't deny that the Bolton case is precedential here (izzat a word?).

I don't actually care very much whether Chuck Hagel becomes defense secretary. The only utility to a Democratic president of having a Republican SecDef is that Republicans will cut the guy some slack and not pester him the way they might go after a Democrat. Hagel obviously will not fulfill that purpose, so I'm not sure what good Hagel is to Obama anyway. He's more trouble than he's worth. Hagel ought to think about withdrawing his name. I'd rather see a Democrat running the shop anyway. The only problem with Hagel withdrawing is that it escalates this craziness.

What I do care about is the anti-Arab racist crap that is floating around. So Hagel spoke to Jim Zogby's group. Jim Zogby's group is always called "controversial," but it's "controversial" chiefly because journalists who are either pro-Israel ideologues or idiots who don't know any better put the adjective "controversial" in front of it. And then there's this odious business that Dave Weigel exposed about the "pro-Hagel" group Friends of Hamas, which doesn't actually exist.

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Obama defends the "immanently qualified" Chuck Hagel and slams Senate GOP for obstruction.