Chuck Hagel is set to become the next defense secretary having cleared a major hurdle this afternoon. Republicans had blocked his nomination for almost two weeks due to their objections to his noxious views on Middle East security. Today, the Senate voted 71–27 to end debate on Hagel’s nomination, and will hold a final vote on confirmation at 4:30 (Eastern) this afternoon.
At first, Republicans threatened a filibuster over demands that the White House turn over more information about the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya that left four Americans, including the ambassador, dead. As Obama officials turned over more information on that front, senior Republicans latched on to requests for more documents about the nominee’s private-sector life, including the source of funds from his numerous speeches in the more than four years since he left the Senate.
That prompted a nearly unified GOP caucus to block Hagel’s first filibuster vote Feb. 14, the first time a nominee for defense secretary faced such a partisan maneuver.
The White House and Democrats rejected those demands, and instead cited the lengthy background checks conducted by the FBI and the Senate Armed Services Committee.
In the minutes leading up to Tuesday’s vote, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said that he did not need any more information about Hagel’s finances, and instead said most Republicans simply objected to Hagel’s world view.
In what has become a familiar pattern with Obama, he went ahead with a divisive and distracting approach, knowing that controversy lay ahead with the Hagel nomination, rather choosing a more qualified candidate everyone could agree with.
U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) made this point on the Senate floor, today, when he spoke about his opposition to Hagel’s confirmation.
A group of Senate Republicans wrote a letter to the president, last week, calling on him to withdraw the nomination.
Fifteen Republicans senators wrote that Hagel lacks the bipartisan support and confidence to serve in the vital job of defense secretary.
‘‘The occupant of this critical office should be someone whose candidacy is neither controversial nor divisive,’’ wrote the senators — all opponents of Hagel.
None of that matters to Obama, whose only interest was finding a “Yes Man” to go along with his plans to downsize the Pentagon and help him manage the decline of US power in the world. If he can enrage and frustrate impotent Republicans while in the process, so much the better.