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.