Woodward: Senate Dems calling WH to ask if Hagel is withdrawing

posted at 2:01 pm on February 17, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The answer, for the moment, is “an emphatic no,” Bob Woodward tells the Fox News panel today, but the problem for Hagel is the other question that they’re asking (via Daniel Halper):

“I think there is another dimension here and that is, what are Democratic senators really thinking about the Hagel nomination? I understand some of them have actually called the White House and said, ‘Is Hagel going to withdraw? Would he consider withdrawing?’ The answer is an emphatic no,” Woodward reported. “But remember John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s aide, used to talk about twisting slowly in the wind. And the factor here is time, and there is this twisting in the wind aura to all of this. And I wonder whether the Democrats are kind of looking and asking what really is the fundamental question here: Is he the best person to be secretary of defense?”

That has been the fundamental question that the White House and Hagel’s defenders in the Senate have avoided ever since it first got floated.  The morning of Hagel’s disastrous confirmation hearing, Politico raised the issue of Hagel’s lack of qualifications for the job:

There’s not much on Chuck Hagel’s résumé that screams secretary of defense.

He’s not a former White House chief of staff, like Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld. He never ran the CIA, like Leon Panetta or Robert Gates. He never worked inside the Pentagon.

There’s one main job on his résumé — politician — and for Hagel, that’s the problem. …

Defense experts say Hagel, if confirmed, will face major challenges in wrangling a sprawling institution and working with partners to implement President Barack Obama’s policies. That would be the case for anyone taking the top civilian defense post, but Hagel would walk in without the bureaucratic expertise of his predecessors.

“America is at a delicate moment of transition in defense policy and spending,” said Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America. “Sen. Hagel has not proposed serious alternatives during these, or other, defense policy fights; nor has he made any significant contribution — either in office or out — to the even more fundamental questions about the future of U.S. defense posture, the shape and function of the defense establishment, or chronic and complicated spending problems at the Pentagon.”

Just hours later, Hagel imploded in his confirmation hearing, getting basic policy toward Iran wrong twice and having to be corrected by Democrat Carl Levin, and leaving the distinct impression that not only was Hagel unprepared to answer questions about defense policy and systems, but that he hadn’t even bothered to cram for his big exam.  Instead, he tried running away from nearly every public statement he made over the last ten years, and finished his pitch by admitting that he didn’t know much about the job for which he wanted Senate confirmation.

Usually, the Senate doesn’t insist on finding the best person for the job; they want to give the President as much room as possible to appoint people who will follow his policies.  They still want someone who is qualified for the job, and Hagel’s confirmation hearing performance makes a mockery of that claim.  Senate Democrats must be wondering whether the White House will insist on embarrassing them by forcing them to support Hagel — and so far, the answer to that fundamental question is still an emphatic yes.


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No worries GOD IN THE SENATE John McCain has spoken……

Hagel will be confirmed and Universal background checks will pass the Senate.

Thanks John……….you’re such a fighter for Conservative values when it really counts.

PappyD61 on February 17, 2013 at 2:04 PM

Obama will grind him up so he’s perfect for the job.

docflash on February 17, 2013 at 2:06 PM

twisting slowly in the wind

Isn’t there some way to harness that wind?
To save the planet or something.

itsnotaboutme on February 17, 2013 at 2:07 PM

Seems like Hagel is as qualified for this as Obama is for his position.

countrybumpkin on February 17, 2013 at 2:12 PM

The one time the R’s shouldn’t fold, they are. Go figure. Still, they’ve neutered Hagel. When he tries to cut funding for Israel, he’ll have to tread lightly or prove to all his inherent anti-Israel bias.

Halli Casser-Jayne
http://www.hallicasser-jayne.com

The CJ Political Report on February 17, 2013 at 2:15 PM

Woodward reported. “But remember John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s aide, used to talk about twisting slowly in the wind.

To Woodward and his peers it’s all still 1972 and the war in Vietnam is still going on and the bogeyman is in the White House.

It always comes back to NIXON, NIXON, NIXON.

Pathetic.

PappyD61 on February 17, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Juan McCain just said Hagel would be confirmed. This another example of the GOP making a lot of noise with no action to back it up. The same sh* t happened with Benghazi, we heard all the noise, and to this date nothing has been done, heck Hilary Clinton in more popular than ever.

Americans, including the conservative base are tired of the side show and really I don’t blame them for believing the GOP has lost it’s way. I mean if you are going to go through all this trouble while not see it all the way? If Hagel is not qualified as we were led to believe, then stop him. Can’t wait for the day McCain and his girlfriend Graham live the Senate.

celticdefender on February 17, 2013 at 2:25 PM

They might as well go for Sweet Brown. At least she’s honest and she ain’t got time for that.

bloggless on February 17, 2013 at 2:25 PM

He’s not a former White House chief of staff, like Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld. He never ran the CIA, like Leon Panetta or Robert Gates. He never worked inside the Pentagon.

And, unlike any of them, he’s not intelligent, much less curiously so.

Dusty on February 17, 2013 at 2:27 PM

Oh look at Hagel! Never mind the Jihad Denier about to take over the CIA.

VorDaj on February 17, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Should have posted the most interesting part of FNS, the part where Woodward ridicules Rove and his asinine response about his PAC and Levin’s criticism. How bad is it when Bob Woodward has a better understanding of conservatives then Karl Rove?

lowandslow on February 17, 2013 at 2:31 PM

We owe thanks to the TEA Party Senators for their due dilligence in staying the course. What we owe the GOP Elitists is something so crude that I’m uncertain as to whether it is fit for public consumption, so I’ll leave it to the more crass element [Romneycare supporters!] to fill in that blank.

DannoJyd on February 17, 2013 at 2:33 PM

No worries GOD IN THE SENATE John McCain has spoken……

Hagel will be confirmed and Universal background checks will pass the Senate.

Thanks John……….you’re such a fighter for Conservative values when it really counts.

PappyD61 on February 17, 2013 at 2:04 PM

McCain is worse than “fundamentally flawed” in the political sense. There has always been something very wrong with his character, which is one of extreme “me-first-and-only” self-entitlement. He was wrongfully admitted to the Naval Academy with bad grades ahead of more qualified applicants because his daddy and granddaddy were admirals. Rules that apply to ordinary people don’t apply to him. He thumbed his nose at Annapolis because he couldn’t be kicked out or flunked out, because he was JOHN MCCAIN, son and grandson of ADMIRALS. He ignored orders and crashed planes, because he couldn’t be disciplined as the son and grandson of admirals.

He ditched the wife who stood by him, when he wanted a rich blonde chick young enough to be his daughter, who could finance his political ambition. He was caught taking bribes to his wife from the Keating 5, so tried to cover his tracks by imposing the McCain-Feingold nonsense on everyone else (laws only apply to everyone else, not to JOHN MCCAIN). He entertained a blonde lobbyist in ways that worried his staff, and improperly pressured the FCC for her in exchange for …., because he is JOHN MCCAIN!!!!!!. He yelled obscenities at other senators who questioned ramming his McCain-Kennedy amnesty through the Senate in the dead of night without debate, and screamed he knew more about it than anyone else – because he is JOHN MCCAIN, a legend in his own mind !!!!!! He has had secret no press allowed meetings to praise Mexico as our dearest friend and closest neighbor, calling enforcement of the laws “Rhetoric”.

As president, McCain, like the man he helped elect. Barack Obama, would have tried to rule by fiat and would make Hugo Chavez look like George Washington. Like the Alice in Wonderland Queen of Hearts, if any GOP congresscritter disagreed with him “OFF WITH HER HEAD- I’m JOHN MCCAIN, KING OF THE UNIVERSE!!!”

There has always been something consistently very wrong with McCain’s character. Through it all, this lying unreliable self-aggrandizing megalomaniac poses as a “straight talker”, and is so sick, he probably believes it himself, because he is JOHN MCCAIN !!!!!!!!!!!!, son and grandson of ADMIRALS.

RasThavas on February 17, 2013 at 2:33 PM

PappyD61 on February 17, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Did you read the report about how Cigarman used to get advice from Nixon when not too busy chasing after the little girls in Washington? The report is out there.

DannoJyd on February 17, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Statements like McCain’s increase the odds against Democratic rank-breaking on Hagel and/or a change of heart by the White House. If confirmation is basically a done deal, then Senate Dems will be reluctant to torpedo it and Obama will not give up his hard-won victory. Perhaps most significantly, the pro-Israel advocacy groups that might be able to influence certain Senate Dems will continue to stay out of this fight, not wanting to alienate the next Secretary of Defense.

If, as McCain says, Hagel isn’t qualified to be Secretary of Defense, then McCain should get out of the punditry/posturing business and see if there is enough anti-Hagel momentum, such as the kind Woodward posits, to shake things up. But resisting those urges has always been beyond McCain.

Powerline.

If McVain thought Hagel unqualified to supervise the military, e should have said so. But that would be too principled for McVain.

His only principle appears to be “bipartisanship,” otherwise known as getting invited back on the Sunday talk shows and Letterman.

Wethal on February 17, 2013 at 2:41 PM

McCain: Hagel confirmation imminent

Arizona Sen. John McCain says it’s time to let Chuck Hagel take the top job at the Pentagon, even though he called the defense secretary nominee “the most unimpressive that I’ve ever seen.”

“No, I don’t believe he’s qualified, but I don’t believe we should hold up his confirmation any further,” the Republican senator said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I think it’s a reasonable amount of time to have questions answered — not two days’ worth.”

Don’t you just love John McCain and the other Senate RINOs? And Senator Cruz is the “bad boy”?

I sure wish Democrats had extended the same courtesy to President Bush’s nominees… remember John Bolton?

And I bet the Democrats will be so grateful that they will promise not to filibuster any future Republican nominee… right? RIGHT???

Can Arizona please buck up and retire McCain?

TheRightMan on February 17, 2013 at 2:42 PM

Why call the White House? There’s nobody there. Barky’s playing golf with Tiger today.

Gingotts on February 17, 2013 at 2:43 PM

Old and Busted: Comedy gold, Jerry!
The New Hotness: Comity gold, Barry!

Christien on February 17, 2013 at 2:53 PM

Erlichman…?

Gee…Thanks for the prehistoric reference there Mr.Father Time.

NeoKong on February 17, 2013 at 2:54 PM

RasThavas on February 17, 2013 at 2:33 PM

Very true. Well written.

bw222 on February 17, 2013 at 2:54 PM

There’s one main job on his résumé — politician — and for Hagel, that’s the problem. …

…that’s what JugEars requires!

KOOLAID2 on February 17, 2013 at 2:54 PM

We owe thanks to the TEA Party Senators for their due dilligence in staying the course. What we owe the GOP Elitists is something so crude that I’m uncertain as to whether it is fit for public consumption, so I’ll leave it to the more crass element [Romneycare supporters!] to fill in that blank.

DannoJyd on February 17, 2013 at 2:33 PM

…oh its OK DannoJyd…I’m here!….phuckem’……may they dine at a swine trough full of feces!

KOOLAID2 on February 17, 2013 at 2:59 PM

RasThavas on February 17, 2013 at 2:33 PM

…I gave him a pass early on after Nam…but you are right on!

KOOLAID2 on February 17, 2013 at 3:04 PM

KOOLAID2 on February 17, 2013 at 2:59 PM

What I had in mind involved a broken off broom handle and barbed wire …

I wonder if the fighters of the death penality would allow impalement?

DannoJyd on February 17, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Defense experts say Hagel, if confirmed, will face major challenges in wrangling a sprawling institution and working with partners to implement President Barack Obama’s policies. That would be the case for anyone taking the top civilian defense post, but Hagel would walk in without the bureaucratic expertise of his predecessors.

Since Obama’s goal is to funnel as much money as possible to bureaucracies, social programs and union contractors, it’s really not a problem. This is what the bureaucracies (such as the Pentagon) do when left to their own devices.

If Obama’s goal was to produce an effective national defense then Hagel would not be his nominee.

Fenris on February 17, 2013 at 3:12 PM

TheRightMan – McCain in Arizona

And replace McCain with what, who? We in Arizona aren’t crazy about that loon either. I keep hoping he’ll retire, but he just keeps on going. We had a relatively young conservative run against McCain in the last midterm, McCain’s group spent millions of dollars smearing him into oblivion. McCain has the money and the power.

I’m sorry to say McCain is going to be around for a long time.

Arizona offers it’s apologies.

NEWRIVERELECTRIC on February 17, 2013 at 3:21 PM

Barky’s main goal is to weaken the DoD, Hagel is the perfect man for the job. He will not withdraw or be withdrawn. McCain should be ousted before he does any more damage.

D-fusit on February 17, 2013 at 3:22 PM

NEWRIVERELECTRIC on February 17, 2013 at 3:21 PM

Have you folks considered a recall effort? I would think your local TEA Party would be interested in doing exactly that.

How about you? Are you involved in grass roots efforts? You must know that leaving others to do the heavy lifting never works out…

DannoJyd on February 17, 2013 at 3:28 PM

I wonder if McCain’s “mavericky” statement, which will likely reassure those wavering Dems, was actually a big “F U” to Ted Cruz.

Wethal on February 17, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Hillary was and is completely unqualified, so why is this dunce any different really? Our entire government is full of incompetent idiots.

We are so screwed.

dogsoldier on February 17, 2013 at 3:52 PM

GOP BOP.

Ball-less Old Party.

profitsbeard on February 17, 2013 at 3:52 PM

I just read that McCain wants RINO’s to support gun control.

alanstern on February 17, 2013 at 3:53 PM

As a Republican I am feeling defeated. Every time I watch the news my side is losing or giving up. I now know how Jet Fans feel.

alanstern on February 17, 2013 at 3:55 PM

So John McCain says he’ll be confirmed and that makes it so. No, there’s nothing wrong with the GOP establishment, this is going swimingly.

Jackalope on February 17, 2013 at 4:38 PM

“Is Hagel the best man for Sec. Of Defense?”. Please. Are we really THAT stupid.

No he isn’t and any and everyone knows it. Once Obama nominated him the most important thing was push thru the nomination to prevent Obama from getting egg on his face. They have not the least bit of concern
For the country. After all, Obama and Jarret will be calling all the shots anyway. They just want a RINO as the front man to give them some bipartisan cred with the stupid, ignorant and gullible. It’s all about Obama now and, as is customary, to he’ll with the country.

artman1746 on February 17, 2013 at 4:57 PM

GOP BOP.

Ball-less Old Party.

profitsbeard on February 17, 2013 at 3:52 PM

The GOP is only as good as its supporters, so what did you do this time?!?!

DannoJyd on February 17, 2013 at 5:27 PM

Hagle, like ObamaCare, designed to fail.

GarandFan on February 17, 2013 at 5:37 PM

I hate McCain more and more every day. Really, he doesn’t t stand for anything. It’s always “reach across the aisle”.

Mirimichi on February 17, 2013 at 6:07 PM

I hate McCain more and more every day. Really, he doesn’t t stand for anything. It’s always “reach across the aisle”.

Mirimichi on February 17, 2013 at 6:07 PM

Romney has been the exact same way his entire political life, so what else would you expect from a Rove/GOP elitist? It isn’t as if more republicans are signing up with the TEA Party to fight this sort of spineless ‘representation’.

America ALWAYS gets the government it deserves.

DannoJyd on February 17, 2013 at 6:28 PM

Miss Lindsay said that Hagel responded to the “Israel runs the state department” inquiry.

Hagel just doens’t recall saying that. Miss Lindsay appears satisfied with Hagel, too.

Wethal on February 17, 2013 at 7:01 PM

What don’t these Senators understand about the word “confirm”?

When a public official is asked to confirm the adequacy of, say, the design of a bridge, he or she is putting their professional reputation and personal liability on the line.

They cannot say “Although I think this design is inadequate, who am I to judge the designs of others, so I will confirm it as okay. And besides that, someday I might need them to confirm one of my designs!” They would be lucky to be merely be run out of town, and not prosecuted for dereliction of duty. Who are they to judge? Are not they the people paid to judge and sworn to judge?!

So where the hell do these Senators get off saying “This guy is incompetent, but in order to get along with my friends in this really super club, I will assent to his nomination – I mean it’s just an oath I took to to uphold a role assigned to me in the the Constitution, so it’s no biggie.”

Any Senator who perverts his Constitutional duty by assenting to the confirmation of a high official that he publicly states is incompetent, is in violation of his oath of office, and should be recalled.

It’s about time we hold these people accountable to us, not to their fellow club-members – and yes I’m talking to you Arizona!

drunyan8315 on February 17, 2013 at 9:29 PM