Charles P. Pierce summarizes the Hagel hearings yesterday.
The whole hearing was nothing more than a show, and we all know that the easiest shows to sell are revivals. The Republican opposition decided to re-litigate the failures of the Bush administration in the context of the world view of Dean Acheson. It was a weird performance. It was like watching Rent performed on the set of Show Boat. And very little of it had anything to do with Hagel’s qualifications to be Secretary Of Defense. Most of the questioning would seem to have been more suited to the hearings earlier this week, when John Kerry sailed through the confirmation process to become Secretary Of State. Hagel’s not running to be a diplomat and, frankly, given our experience with that steaming hunk of neocon man-meat, Don Rumsfeld, I’d just as soon not have the Defense Secretary involved in the formulation of foreign policy as much as he is in making sure the grunts who have to carry it out have sufficient body armor. That, by all accounts, is what Hagel sees the job as being about. What some mullah may have mumbled about him may echo loudly among the stalagmites in Jim Inhofe’s brain, but it has absolutely no relevance to the rest of us as far as Hagel’s ability to run a Defense department. There is some criticism rising that Hagel was not properly prepared for his testimony. I’m not sure anybody could have been. How could anyone be properly prepared for Jim Inhofe and Ted Cruz in the same day? Those kind of mushrooms are still illegal.
I watched clips of John McCain and Ted Cruz grilling Mr. Hagel. It’s very clear that Sen. McCain is a bitter, angry crank, and Sen. Cruz is a modern-day Joe McCarthy without the charm. And it’s pretty clear that the reason they did it was because Mr. Hagel didn’t go along with the Republican orthodoxy of perpetual war somewhere — Iraq, Iran, Mordor — and he was nominated by That Man in the White House.
I have no strong feelings for Chuck Hagel either way. He didn’t handle the hearing well, although it’s hard to imagine being prepped for treatment like that and come out of it looking good. But after yesterday’s show of the bitter, bizarre, and just plain stupid vindictiveness, I hope he gets confirmed just so he can tell the Republicans to get bent.