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A Fraternity of Scoundrels

If President Obama traipsed before the cameras in full regalia and announced that he was Napoleon, Republicans would count it a resounding victory if they could but convince him to take that funny hat off while indoors.  John McCain would remind us that elections have consequences while Lindsey Graham would demurely disclose that, “I give him great discretion.”  

Want proof?  Regarding the nomination of the supremely inept Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense (Neville Chamberlain being indisposed at the moment), John McCain concluded, “No, I don’t believe he’s qualified.  But I don’t believe that we should hold up his nomination any further, because I think it’s (been) a reasonable amount of time to have questions answered.” Why not nominate Oprah then? It would take even less time to establish her lack of qualification to head the Department of Defense.  

hagel_hearing_AP.jpgAssistant Secretary of Retreat Lindsey Graham gave his considered opinion that Hagel is, “…one of the most unqualified, radical choices for Secretary of Defense in a very long time.”  And therefore, he concluded as surely as night follows day that, “… at the end of the day, this is the president’s decision.  I give him great discretion.” And in giving great discretion, Graham doesn’t give national security a fighting chance. At what point did Presidential discretion compel senatorial acquiescence in the attempt at national suicide?  

Once upon a time, when Jimmy Carter nominated a liberal named Abner Mikva for an appeals court position, then-Senator Joe Biden remarked that, “I think that the advice and consent responsibility of the Senate does not permit us to deprive the President of the United States from being able to appoint that person or persons who have a particular point of new unless it can be shown that their temperament does not fit the job.” But Biden’s view of advice and consent is much like his view of the Constitution itself, which is that it is made of Silly Putty and can be molded to fit changing circumstances. So that when it came time to hold forth on the Senate’s duty vis-a-vis Robert Bork, he announced, “And thus the Senate, in exercising its constitutional role of advice and consent, has not only the right in my opinion but the duty to weigh the philosophy of the nominee as it reaches its own independent decision.”  

Lindsey Graham’s exploration of Chuck Hagel’s philosophy yielded the following exchange

Now, let’s talk a little bit about statements you’ve made. You’ve explained this a bit. You said, “The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here. I’m not an Israeli senator; I’m a United States senator. This pressure makes us do dumb things at times.” You said “the Jewish lobby” should not have been — that term shouldn’t have been used, it should have been some other term. Name one person, in your opinion, who is intimidated by the Israeli lobby in the United States Senate.

Mr. HAGEL: Well, first –

Sen. GRAHAM: Name one.

Mr. HAGEL: I don’t know.

Sen. GRAHAM: Well, why would you say it?

Mr. HAGEL: I didn’t have in mind a specific person.

Sen. GRAHAM: Do you agree it’s a provocative statement, that I can’t think of a more provocative thing to say about the relationship between the United States and Israel and the Senate or the Congress than what you said? Name one dumb thing we’ve been goaded into doing because of the pressure from the Israeli or Jewish lobby.

Mr. HAGEL: I have already stated that I regret the terminology I used.

Sen. GRAHAM: But you said back then, “It makes us do dumb things.” You can’t name one senator intimidated. Now give me one example of the dumb things that we’re pressured to do up here.

Mr. HAGEL: We were talking in that interview about the Middle East, about positions, about Israel.

Sen. GRAHAM: So give me an example of where we’ve been intimidated by the Israeli Jewish lobby to do something dumb regarding the Mideast, Israel, or anywhere else.

Mr. HAGEL: Well, I can’t give you an example.

Sen. GRAHAM: Thank you. Do you agree with me you shouldn’t have said something like that?

Mr. HAGEL: Yes, I do. I’ve already said that. 

From that exchange, Senator Graham has decided to lend his considerable discretion to the appointment of a nominee whom charity demands that we simply call “unqualified,” rather than, say, a boob. Latitude to qualified nominees is one thing, but latitude to those who have established their incompetence at profound length during painful testimony is pathetically and mind-blowingly dumb. If John McCain, Lindsey Graham, or any other senator finds Chuck Hagel unqualified to lead our armed forces, they have an affirmative duty to stop this disaster before it unfolds with catastrophic consequences. To do any less is to spinelessly subordinate the security of the United States in deference to a fraternity of professional scoundrels.

  1. TeeJaw

    This reminds us of when George W. Bush announced that he believed McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform was unconstitutional, and then signed it.  Republicans haven’t lost their principles, they don’t have any.  At least none they think are worth fighting for.

  2. Western Chauvinist

    The people have spoken, and now the military must be punished. 

    I believe the phrase is, “advise and consent,” not “take a browbeating and roll over and play dead.” 

    What in heaven’s name does John McCain have to lose by obstructing this horrible nomination anyway? Is he planning to run against Obama again in 2016? /do I sound bitter?

  3. SteveS

    When will it become imperative for we the governed to rise up and revolt from the tyranny of the ineptness, the cowardess, the feckless ruling class who enslave us in such contempt

  4. Whiskey Sam

    The cast of Animal House is running the country.

  5. Mark

    I think Presidents are owed more discretion in appointing members of their Administration than in making judicial appointments which are to another branch of government and are for a lifetime.

    For instance, John Kerry has been wrong on every major foreign policy issue in the past 40 years and I’m confident will be a lousy Secretary of State but I would not have opposed him if I was a Senator.

    Hagel looks different to me as his basic competence seems in question.

  6. Dave Carter
    C
    Whiskey Sam: The cast of Animal House is running the country. · 7 minutes ago

    I must respectfully disagree.  At least the cast of Animal House had the one redeeming quality of being humorous.  

  7. Dave Carter
    C
    Mark: I think Presidents are owed more discretion in appointing members of their Administration than in making judicial appointments which are to another branch of government and are for a lifetime.

    For instance, John Kerry has been wrong on every major foreign policy issue in the past 40 years and I’m confident will be a lousy Secretary of State but I would not have opposed him if I was a Senator.

    Hagel looks different to me as his basic competence seems in question. · 0 minutes ago

    I agree that competence is a major issue here.  Though I should confess that I would have voted against Kerry as well.   To be habitually wrong from the sidelines can be a nuisance, which Kerry certainly has been,..but to take that ineptitude onto the world stage in a consequential position such as Secretary of State is disastrous.  The Arab Spring/Muslim Brotherhood Ascendancy, Americans attacked and killed in Benghazi while officials dither,… these are but a foretaste of coming attractions, and were I in a position to prevent it, I’d act accordingly. 

  8. Bernadette

    There is a vital difference between Republicans and Democrats in Congress.  Democrats push their case, and that of their voters, no matter what and inconsistency is not a consideration with them.  Republicans act like uncool kids in high school who want to be liked.  Time and again they forget who brung them to the dance.

     

    Performances like those of McCain and Graham may not affect their own chances at the next election but they taint and endanger all other Republicans in less safe seats.  They contribute to the dishearting hopelessness of Republican and conservative voters everywhere.

  9. Whiskey Sam
    Dave Carter

    Whiskey Sam: The cast of Animal House is running the country. · 7 minutes ago

    I must respectfully disagree.  At least the cast of Animal Househad the one redeeming quality of being humorous.   · 16 minutes ago

    I would pay money to see President Flounder.

  10. dash

    I don’t know, Dave. I just don’t know what the GOP is anymore. You can bombard their offices with calls, primary them, lambaste them in the rightward media, march on Washington… they just keep rolling over. They have no stamina. Perhaps they’re keeping their powder dry for 2060.

  11. Man With the Axe

    I can only think that the Republicans who won’t filibuster Hagel refrain only because they want to be able to claim they took the high road when the shoe is on the other foot years hence.  Clearly none of them want Hagel.  They are prepared to vote against him, but not filibuster him.

  12. DocJay

    I wonder how much bribery and intimidation factor in to these statements of acquiescence.

  13. Macsen

    I think it was Iowahawk who said: “The first rule of Senate Club, is don’t talk about Senate Club.”

    We can’t expect (most of) the current crop of Republicans (Cruz and Paul appear to be exceptions- I’m sure my fellow readers may be able to name others) to do the right thing by us concerned conservatives.  We really need a sweeping change that wipes out both parties in the current ruling class.

  14. James Of England
    Dave Carter

    ..the supremely inept Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense (Neville Chamberlain being indisposed at the moment),….

    This seems very unfair to Chamberlain. Hagel is wrong on three big questions. On one of them; giving a second chance to a brutal dictator, we could argue that Hagel matches Chamberlain at the Munich stage, but have no proof that he matches Chamberlain on the Poland question a year later. Even at Munich, Chamberlain was in agreement with the overwhelming bulk of the military and the country, while Hagel’s appeasement separates him.

    The second, incompetence on the big questions during war, seems not to be fairly leveled at Chamberlain. While decisions about the early course of the War have been controversial, there was nothing so colossally wrong as Hagel’s hysterical opposition to the Surge.

    The third, a failure to appreciate the importance of preparation for war, may be Hagel’s biggest problem and was Chamberlain’s chief military success. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, he vigorously supported air power and that support turnout out to be decisive in winning that Battle of Britain. Had we had a 1930s Hagel, declaring war, not appeasing, would have been the mistake.

  15. Dave Carter
    C

    James, you have me dead to rights, and I will concede that Hagel makes Chamberlain look like Attila the Hun.  But since Chamberlain and Attila couldn’t be reached, the President reached for Hagel.  

  16. Robert E. Lee

    Lemme see if I got this right.  We have sequestration turning our military into nothing more than a framework to distribute our few remaining dollars to defense contractors without providing an actual defense for our country; and Hagel, prime proponent for eliminating our nuclear weapons, our sole remaining option.

  17. Mike LaRoche

    The Republican Party is a disgrace.  I recall Clint Eastwood’s speech to the Republican National Convention last summer, wherein he stated that Barack Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated upon the American people.  Eastwood is correct, but the GOP is the second-greatest hoax, pretending to be conservative to garner political support, subsequently doing nothing to oppose the steady advance of liberalism and socialism once in power.

  18. Lenny Analias

    I have to agree with Mark.   For a long time now, I have identified myself as a conservative – not a Republican.  The reason is the thinking displayed by Sens. McCain and Graham.  This is like Vice-President Biden saying: I agree with my church (against abortion), but I won’t impose my beliefs on other people.  What weasels!   If they were my Senators, I would not support them.

    We’ve all said that the President has been given a “free pass” all his life.  The actions of Sens. McCain and Graham appear to bear this out.  I will always admire Sen. McCain for his actions during the Vietnam War, but, today, he seems to have lost the ability to fight for his convictions.

  19. Devereaux

    Fricosis Guy – I would take small exception with your statement about Vietnam. It was a POLITICAL failure; militarily we beat the pants off them.

  20. Fricosis Guy

    Sometimes I wonder if Hagel, McCain, Kerry, and their ilk want one more big American politico-military failure over the fireplace. Vietnam looks awfully lonely up there…

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