There is a theory throughout the free world that on certain votes party discipline is expected. Such examples abound in the Parliaments in Europe, Israel, Japan, Australia, Canada and any we may have omitted. It has often been on display within the United States Congress, but almost exclusively by the Democrat legislators and almost never, actually might be never, from the Republican side of the aisle. The nomination by President Obama of former Senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense was problematic even before his dreadful performance at his confirmation hearings. As positions go in a President’s Cabinet, Secretary of State, CIA Chief, Chief of the FBI are the few of the positions which rival Secretary of Defense in their importance. This makes the ability to answer questions competently and without overly long hesitations very crucial. Mr. Hagel’s performance left loads to be desired. He not only stumbled on answering questions but also had to correct answers he had given after conferring with handlers sent to aid him in his responses. The United States does not need or desire a Secretary of Defense who is less prepared to answer vital questions than the average Senator would be. Even if this had been the only problem with the Hagel appointment it still would have been worthy of greater objection than was displayed.
But there were already other questions and difficulties posed by Senator Hagel’s previous statements concerning the United States staunchest Middle East ally Israel and his lack of resolve shown towards the Iranian nuclear program as well as his soft approach to such terrorist groups denoted as such by the State Department as Hamas and Hezballah. When one additionally inspects Senator Hagel’s voting record his appointment becomes all the more troublesome. Add in his flippant disregard for many such votes and his snide remark that there was no evidence that any of his votes ever did any damage to Israel which though technically true, it is not for want of trying on Hagel’s behalf and solely due to the fact that Hagel’s vote was among the minority and the vast majority of his fellow Senators supported the United State’s ally Israel. The final nail in the coffin for the Hagel appointment should have come when at least one Republican Senator decided to filibuster the nomination and requested his fellow Republicans support his efforts. Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma even wrote a letter asking as much and despite being given the support of a number of fellow Republican Senators; the party supported his efforts only through one cloture vote stalling the confirmation over one little weekend.
After supporting the Senator Inhofe intent to filibuster on a Friday vote, Senator Reid, the Majority Leader of the Senate, was assured by numerous Republicans that they would no longer support any further Republican efforts to filibuster and delay a confirmation vote. What makes the whole cloture vote fold by Republican Senators so disheartening is when the actual vote came to confirm the Hagel appointment as Secretary of Defense, the final vote was insufficient to have overcome the filibuster by a fair margin of 58-41, two votes short of cloture if the Senators had voted their up or down vote during the cloture vote. Despite the four Senators from the Republican side of the aisle who voted to approve the Hagel nomination, the cloture vote of 71-27 reveals that an additional thirteen Republican Senators voted to end the filibuster by their own party than eventually supported the nomination. The question which those whose Senators voted for cloture despite opposing the nomination must be asked is why, knowing that a vote for cloture guaranteed the nomination, did they ignore the sole path to resist this atrocious appointment and fold to the demands of President Obama, Senator Reid and the Democrats? Are they that afraid to stand strong for their beliefs and only vote their conscience when it will not make a difference and when their vote matters simply fold under even the slightest of pressures from the Democrats? What are they afraid of, missing out on some brie and red wine luncheons in the Capital Building or some other social affairs? If they are unable of standing when their votes matter, perhaps they should be replaced. If your Senator was among the four that voted for Hagel, well, at least they were consistent and voted their minds. But if your Senator is among the thirteen who voted for cloture thus guaranteeing a confirmation which they then voted against, you may wish to replace the worms you currently have as the next choice could not be worse. Maybe you can find a real Republican Senatorial candidate to run against the worm in the next primary and send a real conservative Constitutionalist Senator to Washington. Would that be too much to ask? My Senator, he was the one who first stated intent to filibuster and the other supported him and is known as Senator No. I am glad you asked.
Beyond the Cusp