Political Animal


February 01, 2013 11:44 AM It Just Doesn’t Matter

By Ed Kilgore

So conservatives are still high-fiving each other over the pounding that Chuck Hagel took yesterday from Republicans on the Armed Services Committee, and it was probably Jennifer Rubin’s favorite day since the invasion of Iraq. But Chuck Hagel looking foolish and unprepared isn’t going to much matter unless one of two things happens: a major loss of Democratic support for the nominee that makes 50 votes to confirm problematic, or a decision by Republicans to filibuster confirmation when it gets to the Senate floor. There are zero signs of the first thing happening. And the second would be unprecedented, as Slate’s David Weigel notes:

If Republicans can hold 41 of their 45 members and oppose Hagel, theoretically, they can block him. But there’s very little precedent for that, and Democrats may already have 57 votes. The last Cabinet nominee who straight-up lost a Senate vote was John Tower, facially easy to compare to Hagel because he, too, had been a senator, and he, too, was up for Defense…..
But Tower was a Republican nominee rejected, with 53 “no” votes, by a Democratic Senate. Since 1975, when the margin for a filibuster was set at 60 votes, no Cabinet nominee has ever been subjected to it.

So the best summary of the situation was the headline WaPo’s Chris Cillizza offered yesterday’s after Hagel’s ordeal: “Chuck Hagel was bad. And it doesn’t matter.”

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 February 01, 2013 12:20 PM:

    I'm no great fan of Hagel, but some of those idiots who have him a hard time had better hope he's not a vindictive man when he's SoD.

    If I were Hagel, I'd be an asshole, and cut some military bases and projects based in AR, SC, TX, and the other states whose Senators were @$$holes to me.

    And that should explain to everyone why I'm not in government.

  • c u n d gulag on February 01, 2013 12:24 PM:


    McCain is in AZ, not AR.

    Ah, hell - AR has R's Pryor and Boozman, both morons - so, I'd feck with them, too!!!

  • Ron Byers on February 01, 2013 12:59 PM:

    Actually I thought the grumpy old man and his girl friend Lindsey made fools of themselves.

  • bigtuna on February 01, 2013 1:04 PM:

    Did Hagel really look "foolish and unprepared" ?? REgardless of McCranky and Grammy's tantrums, if true, why did hagel come off that way? Why was he not better prepared?

  • Steve M. on February 01, 2013 1:37 PM:

    But there’s very little precedent for that

    Before 2011, there was very little precedent for an opposition party threatening to destroy the full faith and credit of the U.S. government just to get back at a president.

  • Mitch on February 01, 2013 1:55 PM:


    IMHO it seems that nobody in Washington really understands how damned insane the GOP is right now. Reasonable conservatives (like Hagel) and the majority of Democrats in DC seem to think that their Republican "friends" are reasonable, responsible and mature.

    Such folk always look somewhat like deer in headlights, when the GOP unleashes another salvo of vile rhetoric, spiteful pontifications and outright lies.

    Always seems to me like sane Republicans are fooling themselves into believing their party can still be treated like professional public servants; and far too many Dems seem to think their dinner-party friends on the Right are well-meaning.

    They aren't. The bulk of the GOP is committed ONLY to it's own power, the elimination/alienation of moderates and lefties, and the destruction of all government services. Period.

    When dealing with modern hard-line conservatives, ALWAYS expect blatant hostility, denial of reality and "gotcha" scenarios. Expecting anything else is naive, if not just plain stupid.

    It's amazing that a youngish hillbilly like me can see this, but professional politicians are constantly blind-sided by the GOP's aggression.

  • Mark J on February 01, 2013 3:04 PM:

    Does McCranky have any sense of irony at all? He appears to think Hagel is not qualified to be SecDef because he was "wrong" about the surge, while he believes he should be Prez even though he was disastrously wrong about invading Iraq in the first place. He and Graham cracker deserve eachother.