He was one vote short. Republicans Cochran, Collins, and Johanns had all already committed to voting yes so the only mystery was whether Reid could find two more GOPers to cross the aisle. He found one: As expected, Murkowski ended up erring on the side of bipartisanship. Orrin Hatch voted present, which may or may not be his way of signaling that he’ll vote for Hagel when they try this again in a few weeks but not right now. But wait — what about Rand Paul? If ever there was a SecDef nominee whom the Ron Paul paleocon fan base could sort of dig, it’s a guy known for lamenting the “Israel lobby” and opposing Iran sanctions. Result:
Rand Paul votes no on Hagel cloture
— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) February 14, 2013
Philip Klein, tongue in cheek, calls him today’s neocon hero. Paul’s going to catch endless crap for this from his dad’s supporters so I assume he’s a soft “no” on Hagel, not a hard “no” like Ted Cruz, and will vote yes next time once Hagel/the White House fulfills whatever condition he’s set for switching. That would be in keeping with his M.O. lately in trying to triangulate between mainstream righties and Paulworld. He’ll vote for Hagel, but only after he’s voted against him. We’ll see.
Oh, speaking of conditions for voting yes, the White House finally got back to McCain and Graham about their questions on Benghazi. Turns out that no, Obama never once called Libya’s president on the night an American ambassador was being murdered at the consulate. It was Hillary who took the 3 a.m. phone call. But then, in fairness, Obama was busy that night: He had a campaign event in Vegas to get ready for the next day.
Almost forgot: The reason the vote was 58/40 instead of 59/39 is because Reid switched his vote at the last minute. Procedurally, he has to vote no in order to be eligible to ask for another vote in a week or two. And at the moment, there’s no reason to believe Hagel won’t finally clear cloture when that happens.
Update: As expected, Rand’s got some triangulatin’ to do:
That explanation wasn’t good enough for Justin Raimondo, editorial director of Antiwar.com and a strong supporter of Ron Paul. “It’s time for libertarians to treat Rand Paul like the turncoat he is: boycott,” Raimondo tweeted. “No $$, no support, & start calling him Paul the Lesser.”…
Scott McConnell, one of the [American Conservative]’s founding editors, went a step further: “If Rand Paul persists on going demagogic on Hagel, he will have established beyond any serious doubt that regardless of who his father is, he is Bill Kristol and Jennifer Rubin’s boy.”…
Guardian blogger Glenn Greenwald, a liberal who has been sympathetic to the Pauls, complained, “Any hope Rand Paul was going to usher in some sort of new foreign policy in the GOP has just been torpedoed by his NO vote on Hagel cloture.”
How can he atone? Goodwill visit to Iran, maybe?