Point Blank


By Jeff Kazmierski, Copy Editor/Columnist

Well, I can’t say I didn’t see it coming.  The Republicans in the Senate, either afraid of the Tea Party or in league with that miserable mob of malcontents, have decided against all reason and decency to block former senator and army veteran Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense by demanding a 60-vote majority to confirm him.  
In doing so, the party that gave us two wars (paid for on the nation’s credit card), record deficits, a recession approaching Great Depression levels, three ludicrous fights over whether or not we’re going to pay our bills (and the resulting credit rating downgrade), the imminent destruction of the Postal Service, and the ludicrous madness of the sequester, is now damaging national security during a time of war, just because they don’t like the man in the White House.  And on top of it, they’re trying to blame him for their own malfeasance.
This is truly a new low, even for them.
Oh, but they’re not calling it a “filibuster,” because their overuse of that feature of Senatorial process has been so egregious in the past four years that it’s become synonymous with their party logo.  Call it what you want – a delay, a supermajority vote, whatever – just don’t call it a filibuster.  Because that would be bad.
Last Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) tried unsuccessfully to invoke cloture and enable the nomination to proceed over GOP objections.  The vote failed, 58 to 40, with only four Republicans showing actual principle.  Mike Johanns of Nebraska, I take back some of the bad things I’ve said about you.  But would you mind having a word with your colleague, junior senator Deb Fischer?  Because she clearly needs a lesson in ethics and morality.
What makes this worse is the utter childish petulance of it.  The anti-Hagel crusade is being led by a cabal of Tea Party lunatics including Ted Cruz (R-Texas), whose demands and accusations have only gotten more insulting as the process continues.  He has called for Hagel to release five years of financial records, apparently because Cruz wants to know whether or not he got money from Saudi Arabia or North Korea.  Hagel has already released the required financial documents, and at any rate, five years would be four more years than former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney released.
And then there’s Jim Inhofe (R-OK), who tried to link Hagel to Iran by claiming that the mullahs like him.
Hagel’s former colleague and friend John McCain (R-Ariz) once praised him in the past, but now has cast his lot in with the saboteurs in voting to delay confirmation.  He unwittingly revealed the real reason for the filibuster when he told Neil Cavuto of Fox News that “when he [Hagel] was a Republican, he attacked President Bush mercilessly, calling him the worst president since Herbert Hoover.”  So basically, because Hagel had the temerity to speak truth to power, now he’s the bad guy.
This is a meaningless act of petty foot-stomping by a party whose policies are being overwhelmingly rejected by the voters.  I believe, as do many other commentators and sane senators, that Hagel will ultimately win confirmation and become our nation’s next secretary of defense.  Then the world’s largest government agency will be able go back to managing the millions of people it employs, and the 66,000 men and women currently at war will rest more easily knowing that despite Republican McCarthyism, the right man will be at the helm.


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