Political Animal


January 31, 2013 11:27 AM Hagel’s First Steps To Confirmation

By Ed Kilgore

As confirmation hearings on Chuck Hagel begin in the Senate Armed Services Committee, you can probably expect an inverse relationship between the intensity of attacks on him from confirmed enemies, and the actual odds that his confirmation can be blocked.

At Foreign Policy, Josh Rogin has the closest thing to a publicly available whip count on the nomination, and he suggests lobbying on both sides will concentrate on 13 Republican senators (the most prominent being John McCain) who haven’t given any public or private indication of which way they are leaning. With no Democrats (so far) opposing Hagel, it would take a near-complete partisan polarization to provide the basis for a successful filibuster—and that’s a step in itself that some Republicans would hesitate to take in the case of a former colleague. And again: that’s why the Jennifer Rubins of the world are going to pull out every imaginable stop in claiming that Hagel is an anti-semitic beast who wants to turn Israel over to Iran either before or after he reduces the U.S. military to F Troop and McHale’s Navy levels.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on January 31, 2013 11:41 AM:

    You forgot to mention my favorite objection used by some Republicans:
    He made some anti-gay comments back in the 90's!

    That marked the first time that was of any significance to Republicans.
    Probably the last for awhile, too.a

  • max on January 31, 2013 11:54 AM:

    We have four R's on board for yes, so strictly speaking, we only need one or two more.

    ['This is basically meaningless, right?']

  • esaud on January 31, 2013 12:12 PM:

    I just caught a bit of the questioning from McCain, and I had to turn it off. Of course, McCain wants everyone to agree with his campaign slogan that THE SURGE IS THE MOST BRILLIANT MILITARY MANOEUVER IN THE HISTORY OF COMBAT.

    What a creepy old ass McCain turned into.

  • 4jkb4ia on January 31, 2013 1:00 PM:

    Joe Manchin is simply being the voice of common sense about this whole hearing, which is good news for Hagel.

  • Kathryn on January 31, 2013 1:42 PM:

    McCain was in his McNasty best at this hearing, badgering Hagel to say that the surge was a success or not and threatening to use his answer which was neither yes or no against him in the vote. Turned it off for Lindsey Graham questioning, not up to it. Does anybody here do McCain/Graham tea leaf reading, is it bluster or will they try to derail Hagel? He appeared annoyed but he always appears annoyed.

  • Th on January 31, 2013 1:50 PM:

    My answer on the surge question would be that if the surge has so weakened the Sunni and Kurdish minorities in Iraq that the Shia majority feels safe in pursuing a partnership with Iran, then the surge will be as bad as I said. I guess Hagel can't really say that though.

  • Allan Snyder on January 31, 2013 2:45 PM:

    I think "the surge"(and how many people do you think even know what that was anymore?) is just symbolic of whatever remnants exist of McCain's once, sort of respectable reputation.
    Hagel refused to validate him, so McCain will certainly vote no, as well as the two other stooges in his threesome.

  • Francis Bacon on January 31, 2013 4:40 PM:

    This is all theater. For some of these Senators, if they didn't savage Hagel and vote against, they would be in trouble after the huge defense cuts take effect in their states. This gives them a fig leaf. Plus it is yet another opportunity for them to indirectly attack Obama's foreign policy without having to say Benghazi.

  • buddy66 on January 31, 2013 6:04 PM:

    As a fellow veteran and one-time Republican I share much in common with Chuck Hagel, but be assured neither of us wants to turn Israel over to Iran. However, he might agree with me on giving them Jennifer Rubin.