1) Hagel’s history of contentious comments about the policies of the state of Israel is not merely obnoxious. That record will also severely impede his effectiveness in his portfolio. Israel is the United States’ most capable strategic partner in the world’s most turbulent region. Successful U.S. policy requires effective cooperation with Israel. In the 1990-91 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein attempted to wreck the U.S.-led alliance to rescue Kuwait by firing missiles at Israel. The United States asked Israel not to retaliate. This was an extraordinary and excruciating request. It’s impossible to imagine the United States exercising similar restraint. Yet Israel complied. …

3) The next secretary of defense will preside over the steepest build-down of U.S. forces since the end of the Korean War. Reducing forces while preserving strength will present a daunting managerial challenge. Nothing in Hagel’s career suggests he is equal to the task; and Hagel’s underwhelming confirmation hearing strongly suggests he will not be equal to it. I can’t remember any previous Cabinet appointee who handed in so dismaying a performance under senatorial questioning. Secretary of defense is too important a job for a man who has himself raised so many doubts about his basic competence.

Of course, the Democratic majority holds the votes to confirm Hagel even if Republicans unanimously vote “nay.” The only way Republicans can stop the nomination is by filibuster. Should they? My answer to that is again: No.