Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hagel! Holla back!

I have a modest proposal for President Obama in which he can screw around with Republican opposition to the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary. I'll get to that in a minute. Let's take a look at what's going on:

On Wednesday Senate Republicans forced the Senate to a 60-vote threshold on the confirmation of Chuck Hagel. In order to move forward to a vote Democrats will have to find 60 senators to vote yes on cloture. If they do, the Democrats with a 55-45 majority are expected to confirm Hagel on a near party-line vote.

Wednesday was also a big day for Republican opponents of Hagel in two ways.

First, moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who some news organizations had reported would vote for Hagel, came out to say she would oppose his confirmation, although not block a “final” vote. (It’s unclear whether she would nevertheless support a temporary delay so her GOP colleagues Sens. John McCain, Kelly Ayotte and Lindsey Graham can garner information they requested from the White House on Benghazi.)

Second, McCain and others remained up in the air, maintaining the very real possibility that Friday’s vote might not lead to a quick Hagel confirmation. Meanwhile, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced that he would support a filibuster if need be. (“If they’re not going to give us the information, the only way to get the information is to threaten to hold them to a higher standard of 60 votes.”)

Keep in mind, this piece was written by Jennifer "Billy" Rubin of the WaPo, which makes it about as factual as unicorn-riding talking pigs.

I mean, seriously, you can almost hear her gloating over a small procedural victory in the right wing attempts to smear an honorable and qualified candidate for the post in order to go on a witch hunt over details on a matter that's pretty much been put to bed, at least factually.

Distilling the facts out of her "writing," we find that a) the Republicans scored a cheap political victory that endangers our national security, b) a moderate Susan Collins might not agree with this pathetic stunt anyway, and c) even Senator McCain, who stands to benefit from the delay, opposes the idea of filibustering a Presidential appointee to such an important post!

Boy, I tell you what: Chuck Hagel must have made some serious enemies in the Republican camp for them to twist their panties in a knot this tight. Or maybe not. Let me explain.

The Democrats will have enough votes for cloture, to be sure, and if I'm Harry Reid, once that's taken care of, I don't even give the Teabaggers an ounce of recognition. I'd call for majority vote indicating unanimous consent, then throw it in the faces of every one of those niggling bastards running in 2014 and 2016.

The appointment of Chuck Hagel means just one thing, in my opinion: he has the credibility to line-item every single program in the military and either greenlight it or get rid of it. The establishment Republicans AND the Teabaggers concerned about district and statewide pork know this.

He brings street cred to the vital budget slashing that has to take place if we're truly serious about deficit reduction and not using it as a band-aid for slashing important social programs which are even more vital to the national interest than doubly redundant bombers and warships.

And I can definitely see Hagel trotting out, say, a naval air station in Oklahoma, and reminding people the damned state is landlocked and ought to be more than covered by Vance, Tinker, and Altus Air Force bases. That would smack the hell out of Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn, as well as five Republican Representatives.
The deliciousness of this political ballet is really rather hypnotic.
So if you're scratching your head, wondering why Chuck Hagel, a former Republican Senator and one of the most respected party members, is suddenly being scraped off the bottom of shoes, there it is.
So here's my nuclear option for Obama, should Hagel's nomination be discarded. I would immediately turn around and nominate Senator John McCain to the post.
Want to see heads explode? Obama would still get his budget cuts (he'd short-shrift any attempts by his Cabinet Secretary to override him), McCain would have to go on the defensive again about his war record and his Senate voting record, and this time, he'd be hammered by his own party AND some Democrats piling on.
It would be good times. Good times.