Here's where the Senate left the matter of former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel's nomination to be secretary of defense: Last week, Senate Republicans filibustered the nomination. Because: reasons. They needed more information, urgently! But first, they are going on vacation, see ya! Still, on their way out the door, there was a basic admission that when the recess was up, so was the jig -- Hagel would eventually receive an up-or-down vote, and get confirmed.
Since then, the anti-Hagel forces have not enjoyed a particularly good week, what with the heaping ridicule on those who promulgated the "Friends Of Hamas" story dominating Wednesday. And now, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) has announced that he'll vote in support of Hagel's nomination. Hagel was one vote shy of getting past the filibuster, Shelby is that one vote, and so now it's just a wait until the Senate reconvenes.
But maybe this new gambit from John Cornyn makes sense to somebody. Today, the Republican Texas senator sent a letter to the White House asking President Barack Obama -- who has known he would win this fight for many days now -- to pick a new secretary of defense nominee:
While we respect Senator Hagel's honorable military service, in the interest of national security, we respectfully request that you withdraw his nomination. It would be unprecedented for a Secretary of Defense to take office without the broad base of bipartisan support and confidence needed to serve effectively in this critical position.
Senator Hagel’s performance at his confirmation hearing was deeply concerning, leading to serious doubts about his basic competence to meet the substantial demands of the office. While Senator Hagel's erratic record and myriad conversions on key national security issues are troubling enough, his statements regarding Iran were disconcerting.
The letter was signed by fourteen other GOP senators, including noteworthy Hagel agonistes Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz, but not John McCain, who I guess has given up trying to figure out where he stands on this matter.
The fun part here is that immediately after the Senate Republicans filibustered Hagel, Cornyn stepped into the well of the Senate to loudly protest the notion that a filibuster had just happened, admonishing the media in advance for using the term "filibuster" in their headlines. The point being: Cornyn didn't want his colleagues saddled with the whole "unprecedented filibuster of a Cabinet nominee" thing. So, President Obama, would you pretty please be the guy to block the Hagel nomination? Because that would be swell.
I guess the filibuster is "the pledge," the denial of the filibuster is "the turn," and now convincing the President to withdraw his own inevitable nominee is "the prestige."
Neat trick, anyway, and I guess it doesn't hurt to ask. The really great thing about this is that the fun never has to end. After Obama refuses to withdraw Hagel's nomination, the media can light him up for not showing "leadership" or "changing the tone" to something more "bipartisan." Why does Obama keep doing things that highlight how intransigent the GOP has become? Because he's history's greatest monster.
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