The GOP should resist political temptation....
Yes, Hagel is a shockingly unqualified SecDef nominee. Marine vet Jed Babbin eviscerates Hagel, noting that the nominee said this: “There are a lot of things I don’t know about. If confirmed, I intend to know a lot more than I do.” Pundit Stephen Hayes cited low points, and noted that Hagel had said, in an effort to minimize his obvious ignorance: “I won’t be in a policymaking position.” But his boss is in the top command position....
At WSJ, Bret Stephens summarizes the dismal Obama 2.0 security outlook:
In the meantime, it will come as a comfort to America's enemies to know what they'll be getting in a second Obama term.
One is a cabinet without a single hawk or even semi-hawk, whereas only a year ago there were three: Leon Panetta, David Petraeus and even Hillary Clinton. Another is a secretary of defense with an unsteady grasp of a department that may, within a month, be facing a historic and blunt reduction in its budgets. A third is a vice president who has just agreed to yet another round of negotiations with Tehran. And finally there's a president whose second inaugural address was entirely devoted to calling America home for the collective tasks he believes lie ahead.
Ask yourself how Vladimir Putin, Ali Khamenei and Bashar Assad are likely to feel about all of that. Shouldn't America have at least one officer of cabinet rank who scares the daylights out of these people?
In a better world, senior Democrats would go see the president & urge him to persuade Hagel to withdraw or, failing that, to withdraw Hagel's name. But we are not dealing with such a Democratic party.
And Hagel is not the root of the problem. America's defense nemesis is the re-installed occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. It is President Obama's policies--e.g., "leading from behind" in Syria driving the rebels towards al-Qaeda; diddling in pursuit of yet another round of fruitless talks as Iran upgrades its centrifuges to more rapidly enrich uranium; witlessly continuing to support Egypt's Islamist tyranny--that imperil the republic.
A filibuster would backfire badly, in three ways. First, Obama wants a cipher at the Pentagon, so he can run defense policy out of the West Wing. He is not about to pick a strong candidate if Hagel goes down.
Second, there has never been a filibuster against a Cabinet nominee, ever. Democrats are champions at payback. They will bide their time, and then filibuster not a weak GOP nominee, but a star nominee--to deprive a GOP president of a stellar performer. And they will filibuster more than one such nominee. Backed by a complaisant media that reserves "obstructionist" for GOP actions only, Democrats will win these contests in the public arena.
And then there is the third reason. The GOP recently prevented Harry Reid from ending the filibuster permanently, citing Senate tradition. If the GOP violates a Senate tradition re Cabinet appointees, it will re-open the door for Reid to destroy the filibuster entirely. Senate Democrats furious over the GOP breaking tradition may well go along with Reid.
Bottom Line. If Hagel, as is likely, wins confirmation he will be a pitiful SecDef. But given a president who does not want a strong SecDef--one who might push back against bad ideas emanating from 1600 Penn, of which there will be many--there is nothing that can be done to rectify what the voters wrought on Nov. 6, 2012. The next president will inherit an America gravely diminished in its security posture, and thus far less able to meet emerging threats.
Letter from the Capitol. LFTC, National Security, Foreign Policy, WMD, Nuclear Proliferation, Terrorism, Conservative Politics