Friday, February 15, 2013

The Filibuster of Chuck Hagel

The Republicans have recorded another first.  This time the first ever filibuster of a cabinet nominee for what amounts to nothing more than a show of force against the Obama administration.  These same Republicans mounted a successful preemptive strike against Susan Rice when it was rumored Obama would tap her for Secretary of State.  Now here they are going against one of their own in perhaps the most pathetic display they have made to date.

Chuck Hagel rankles a lot of Republicans because he went against his party in 2008 and endorsed Obama as President.  He retired from the Senate shortly thereafter and had been relatively quiet these past four years.   The Republicans, like the pachyderm they used to symbolize their party, never forget, or forgive it seems.

Hagel seems like the logical choice for Defense, a heavily decorated Vietnam vet who served 12 years in the Senate, and was respected by both parties for his strongly independent nature.  Yet, McCain and Graham took the lead in the attacks against Hagel, largely over his stated positions on Iran and Israel.

The Republicans claim they were "forced" into this vote by the Democrats.  Graham has staunchly defended his attempt to block Hagel's nomination, citing this is what the Democrats would do.  Yet, the Democrats never resorted to such a below-the-belt tactic like this in challenging any of Bush's appointees.  Clearly, this is an attempt by the Republicans to force Obama to withdraw his nomination and score points with their Tea Party base, fearing reprisals in 2014.

Many Republicans are already on the hot seat for having "caved in" on taxes earlier this year.  The Tea Party has identified Republicans their constituents feel betrayed Norquist's anti-tax pledge by giving in to Obama over the first battle over the artificial debt ceiling crisis.  Chuck himself would have most likely found himself a target if he had remained in office, but chose a propitious time to step down from the Senate, having found himself no longer in step with the GOP party line.


  1. This is just another one of those power plays that seems like part of politics as usual these days. The party that used to be the saber wavers, now is satisfied to sit on its collective hands and let the country go without a defense secretary, humiliating the nation.

    In the meantime, while they are all on vacation, Panetta has to travel to the big summit representing a country he no longer represents. Very bizarre that the right believes this is the kind of behavior that helps ensure reelection.

  2. KAREN: you should just jump in and post something here. We're a friendly bunch most of the time.

  3. Watched this program last night. There's nothing here none of us who follow this stuff didn't know -- how's that for a triple negative? -- but it did a good job of putting all the pieces together in one place on the so-called fiscal cliff etc:

    Rachel Maddow also has a special coming up Monday night on the Iraq War:

  4. McCain is still smarting from Hagel endorsing Obama over him in 2008, and Graham is bound and determined to challenge Obama on everything, but the real idiot is Harry Reid for even allowing a vote like this to take place. How he rose to be the Democratic leader in the Senate is beyond me.

  5. And, Reid refused to change the rules on filibuster when he had the chance (again). Then he looks like he's surprised -- shocked even -- when the Republicans use it (again). I still think that the only reason Reid's still in charge is that he's the only one who the big egos think they can work with/manipulate -- although he did stand up to Mortician McConnell until the VP stepped in.

  6. So apparently all this angst over Hagel goes back to his criticism of Bush,

    Joe Scarborough launched into McCain for holding up the nomination process over a Republican "grudge."

  7. Yeah, that's it. And his scathing attack of his colleagues in the Senate about sending young men and women into Iraq without a plan. He basically told them that they had to look their constituents in the eye and tell them why they were sending their sons and daughters there. Pretty impressive speech, and my guess pretty humiliating at the time since no one really knew.

    1. The Downing Street Memo proves that Bush and Blair were liars who fabricated evidence to justify their criminal war on Iraq. The disclosure of this form brought down Blair's regime just like the Pentagon Papers helped in bringing down Nixon. It should have done the same for Bush but the right wing media is too controlled by the profiteering pro war types and that's what has kept the war going.

      Hagel is a hero for speaking the truth.

  8. I'm looking forward to the 10 year anniversary special on Rachel Maddow's show tomorrow night. I don't think she'll pull any punches. What interests me is how this is also so closely tied to the military's fear of another Vietnam, which also helps explain McCain's reaction.

    There's a new book out that Bill Moyers featured last week about the war crimes in Vietnam -- Kill Anything that Moves. Don't know if I have the stomach for it, but am going to try to read it.

    Thomas Powers makes that link as he reviews it and some others about Petraus here:

  9. The Republicans are trying to rule the country like a party in exile, plotting their return to power. Lindsey Graham has decided to take the lead in the Senate, and our dear Harry Reid is letting the asshole walk all over him. If I was Obama I would simply appoint Hagel during this recess. Let the Republicans chew on that one.

  10. The Maddow special wasn't as great as I hoped but she was able to go point by point through the Cheney, Bush, Rice et al arguments about "definite evidence" that was used to sell the war. What was missing though was the reason why they were so hell-bend (before 9-11) to invade Iraq. The only reason was that it would send a message to the world ... hardly the reason in my opinion.

    Some of the more interesting interviews were with Wilkerson, who admitted to (unknowingly) pulling off a hoax -- he used that word -- and also a Republican Senator who admits that had he read the intelligence (which Clinton did not read either) he would probably not have voted yes. Even so, he said he knew at the time that he should vote against the war, but he didn't have the political will with only two months until the next election. He was not alone. That I think is what scares me the most about the entire mess Bush and Cheney did to the country.

  11. I really couldn't figure out the mood in the country at that time. Maybe it was because I was in Europe, and the outrage over the proposed war was so strong that it was hard for me to imagine Democrats and any conscionable Republican voting for that war. His father had a harder time selling the Persian Gulf War in 1990, and he approached the UN first.

    It was such a complete hoax, made adamantly clear by Hans Blix's report presented before the vote. I was even more thunderstruck when so many Congresspersons hadn't read the intelligence, but simply accepted Bush's resolution at face value.

    Even worse was the ugly show the US, Britain and Spain put on at the UN security council meeting when it was clear they weren't going to get the votes for their resolution, blaming it on France.

  12. REVENGE and POLITICS. Bush et al. got a steamroller full of WMD and politicians were afraid to stand up to it. It shows in the way so few bothered to even read the intelligence -- I think she said 5 senators. But then politicians didn't think they could afford to vote no, regardless of what it said.

    And then there was the "support our troops" trope that was another form of propaganda. To speak out against the war was to speak out against the troops. That's the one that got me the most I think.

  13. Her show was based on the Isikoff and Corn book _Hubris_. But it's the interviews that make it come to life.

  14. The "support our troops" trope still goes on. Of course with so many families having someone in the military, it is an easy emotional heart string to pull on. The amazing part is that so few conservatives hold Bush accountable for all the military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet hold Obama accountable for the 4 deaths in Benghazi.

  15. Yes! Excellent point. As she showed, they had all the threads of "evidence" they cited -- e.g., we have a report that says ... -- but all of them were discounted or questioned internally, and they went with them anyway.

    This special focused on the selling of the war, but I wish she would have pushed on the reason for the war. The island on a sea of oil sticks with me but even Corn didn't seem to want to touch that. Or at least, it never came up.