On second thought, Susan Collins to vote no on Hagel -- but yes on cloture

Remember when Major Garrett said yesterday that he had it on good authority Collins was a yes on Hagel? That would have put Democrats at 57 votes, assuming their caucus holds together, which means the chance of a filibuster was hanging by a thread.

Then I saw this tweet and got excited:

She switched! Or Garrett was wrong all along. Either way, they’re back to 56 votes with momentum against confirmation, especially now that McCain’s hinting that he’s switched too. Not only that, but Reid said shortly after the Collins news broke that he’ll move for cloture right away, which could mean that he’s worried about the defections snowballing and wants to try to push Hagel through before things turn critical.

But wait. Wait, wait, wait. Tucked away at the very end of Collins’s long statement explaining what a terrible SecDef Hagel would make is this not-so-minor footnote:

“Unfortunately, I am concerned that Senator Hagel’s nomination would send the wrong message at the wrong time to our allies and adversaries around the world about the resolve of the United States. It is telling and disturbing that when I asked Senator Hagel what he believed were the greatest threats facing our country, he identified the resource shortage that could result from the addition of two billion more people during the next couple decades as near the top of his list. While there no doubt will be tremendous challenges associated with this development, his response concerned me when I consider all of the enormous near-term threats facing our country

“I am unable to support Senator Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense because I do not believe his past positions, votes, and statements match the challenges of our time, and his presentations at his hearing did nothing to ease my doubts. I regret having to reach that conclusion given our personal relationship and my admiration for Senator Hagel’s military service. But I have concluded that he is not well-suited for the tremendous challenges our country faces during this dangerous era in our history.

“As I announce my decision to cast my vote in opposition to Senator Hagel’s nomination, let me address one final question: Should this nomination, which causes me such great concern, be filibustered? As a general rule, I believe a President has the right to choose the members of his Cabinet, and only in extraordinary circumstances should such a nomination be filibustered. I oppose Senator Hagel’s nomination, but I cannot join in a filibuster to block each Senator’s right to vote for or against him.

She’s all but saying that the guy’s out of his depth for the most important position in the cabinet at an extremely precarious moment internationally. Pretty much everyone across the spectrum understands that he’s being nominated only so that a Republican will share blame when Obama starts cutting defense. If that’s not an “extraordinary circumstance” worthy of a filibuster, what is? How dangerously unqualified would this guy have to be before Collins decides that she can’t leave it to Democrats to do the right thing here?


Obama himself had no qualms about filibustering a presidential nominee who was, unlike Hagel, eminently qualified for his position. Good lord.

That’s 57 votes for cloture. Exit question: Which three other Republicans will join Collins in pushing a rank incompetent nominated for cynical partisan reasons through?