In the latest example of dysfunctional partisan politics Senate Republicans managed to prove once again that they will go to any lengths to obstruct the will of this president.
The Senate failed to gather enough votes to today to stop a filibuster against the president’s Defense Secretary Nominee, Chuck Hagel. Democrats were unable to get the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster. 58 senators voted to move forward with the nomination while 40 members voted to continue to hold up the process. The vote was generally along party lines, with only four Republicans voting with the Democrats. Hagel’s nomination will now sit in limbo while the senate takes a ten day recess.
Afterward, Republicans admitted their obstructionist tactics had nothing to do with Chuck Hagel’s qualifications to serve as Secretary of State. Republicans are ticked off at Hagel because in his days as a Republican senator he openly criticized the president and his Republican colleagues for taking the country into a war with Iraq. “To be honest with you,” said Senator John McCain, “it goes back to (that) there’s a lot of ill will toward Senator Hagel because when he was a Republican, he attacked President Bush mercilessly and said he was the worst president since Herbert Hoover and said the surge was the worst blunder since the Vietnam War, which was nonsense…He was anti his own party and people. People don’t forget that.”
In addition to payback, some Republicans see withholding Hagels nomination as way to exert leverage against the White House; to obtain answers to previously unanswered questions. Some want to know exactly what the president was doing at the time the Benghazi attack occurred; no doubt hoping that he was playing a round of golf. Some want to know specifically who it was that changed the talking points used by UN Secretary Rice on the Sunday shows. You may recall that Rice was provided talking points that attributed the attack on the Benghazi consulate to a simultaneous event. Subsequent investigations have determined that the CIA and FBI knew before Rice went on the Sunday circuit that the attack was an organized terrorist attack; yet they allowed Rice to present inaccurate information. Republicans want to know who provided Rice with the false information…and was the White House in on it.
Once Republicans had succeeded in delaying a vote on Hagel’s confirmation they added more fuel to their dysfunctional fire. Immediately after voting “No” on the senate floor McCain said that he would vote “Yes” after the recess. “That is sufficient time to get any additional questions answered and I will vote in favor of cloture on the day we get back and I believe that my colleagues, enough of my colleagues will do the same.
Senator Lindsey Graham, who also voted “No”, agreed, telling reporters that he would vote for cloture after the recess unless some huge “bombshell” comes out over the next week.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dutifully expressed his outrage at the Republicans shenanigans with this disjointed statement: “This isn’t a high school getting ready for a football game or some play that’s being produced at the high school…we’re trying to confirm somebody to run the defenses of our country, the military of our country.”
Reid has no business complaining about the Republicans using the filibuster every time there is a tough vote. All through last years’ elections he promised that if majority control of the senate were returned to the Democrats he would use his powers to eliminate the filibuster the first day congress stood in session. Instead Reid caved and cut a weak handshake deal with Mitch McConnell to use the filibuster on only rare occasions…an agreement which McConnell broke almost immediately. Reid has no one to blame for this situation but himself.
As a result of all this nonsense we will not have our Secretary of Defense present at an important NATO meeting set for next week. More importantly, at a time of war we will have sent a message to our allies and our enemies that we are not united as a nation in terms of our military strategy. All because of a seven year old grudge.
And so the clown show continues…