So was the Hagel fight worth it?
posted at 6:12 pm on February 27, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
John Podhoretz thinks it was:
The revelation that Schumer would carry water for Hagel was useful as well — useful in exposing the demagogic falsity of his claims to the Jewish community that he views himself as a special “guardian” of Jerusalem.
Also useful were the confirmation hearings in which Hagel acquitted himself so miserably — showing glancing knowledge of current administration policy, unable to account for his own views, even saying he didn’t know enough now but was willing to learn on the job.
If confirmation hearings actually served as the job interview for the Senate — which must approve a presidential Cabinet appointment, under the rules of the Constitution — Hagel would’ve been dead in the water. But of course they rarely do.
What that hearing did do was give the lie to all those who said there were no grounds on which to oppose Hagel. By the hearing’s end, there was precious little ground to do anything but oppose Hagel — except for the key fact that the president wanted him.
Well, he has him, and mazel tov. The country is worse off, the Senate is worse off for having rubber-stamped Hagel and Schumer has revealed himself for all to see.
Those of us who opposed Hagel’s nomination have clear consciences for having done so, win or lose. It was a matter of principle, not of politics.
In order to answer the question, one has to ask first whether it cost Republicans anything to delay Hagel’s confirmation. The answer seems to be no, or at least nothing in the short term. They may end up setting precedents for future confirmations that will exasperate Republican Presidents, but that lack of concern over long-term implications in these fights exists in both parties. They didn’t lose anything significant, anyway.
What did they gain? Again, probably not a lot, and they may have annoyed some conservatives who wanted them to fight Hagel even longer. However, they did at least expose Hagel as unqualified and bumbling, making it clear that the only reason Obama would have chosen him — and stuck with him after that disastrous confirmation hearing — is for the political cover of Hagel’s party affiliation. When Hagel comes around Capitol Hill pushing deep spending cuts in Defense, not even the media’s going to buy the idea that Hagel represents some kind of significant heterodox line of Republican thought. He’ll be an obvious shill for Obama, and he won’t get very far either at the Pentagon or on Capitol Hill as a result.
I think he’s gone by the 2014 midterm elections.