No surprise: Hagel wins cloture vote easily

I told you the yays would be closer to 70 than to 60. Final tally: 71-27. You didn’t seriously think these losers would go to the mat to block a nominee just because he’s manifestly unqualified, did you?

Eighteen Republicans voted yes, according to Fox’s Chad Pergram. The roll of glory:

Remember, Maverick has said publicly that Hagel’s not qualified. He voted for cloture anyway, and now he’ll try to cover his ass by voting no on the completely meaningless final vote for confirmation. NRO’s Dan Foster marvels at the GOP’s heroism:

The most interesting no vote here was, of course, Rand Paul’s. That’s one I got badly wrong; I thought for sure he’d try to placate the isolationists in his base by voting yes this time after voting no last week. Nope. He stuck to his guns, even though he had political cover to vote yes from no less than interventionist extraordinaire John McCain. Amazing. I think he’ll lose more votes from disaffected Ron Paul fans in 2016 than he’ll gain from mainstream conservatives by opposing Hagel, but oh well. Hope he knows what he’s doing.

Exit question: Was it worth putting up a fuss about Hagel for a few weeks notwithstanding this embarrassing cave by the GOP? Some say no. I’d say yes. Hagel’s chief value to Obama is his party affiliation; he’s supposed to give The One “bipartisan” approval for his defense plans over the next four years. Having Republicans spend a month tearing him up was useful as a way to drain him of that “bipartisan” cred; he ended up being all but excommunicated from the party, even by people who voted yes today. (Recall Susan Collins’s long, long, long critique of Hagel, with her intent to vote for cloture almost a footnote.) He’ll start his tenure as the single weakest member of Obama’s cabinet, which will come in handy when he inevitably carries Obama’s water to the Hill to demand defense cuts. The result is disappointing but the process wasn’t a complete waste of time. Just mostly.