The Republicans would like you to believe that Obama’s nomination of Senator Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary was so spectacularly bad that it required them to do something unprecedented to stop it. Never before has the Senate filibustered against a Secretary of Defense nominee.
The odd thing was that if you listened to people like my Senator Lindsey Graham, it seemed that this filibuster was necessary to try to force the President to come clean about the attack on Benghazi. If you thought Susan Rice had nothing to do with Benghazi, then Hagel had even less.
Another fierce opponent, John McCain explained the opposition this way:
There’s a lot of ill will towards Senator Hagel because when he was a Republican, he attacked President Bush mercilessly and said he was the worst President since Herbert Hoover and said the surge was the worst blunder since the Vietnam War, which was nonsense. He was anti-his own party and people — people don’t forget that. You can disagree but if you’re disagreeable, then people don’t forget that.
Hagel was being nominated as Secretary of Defense of the United States not some post within the Republican Party, so putting his loyalty to the United States above his party loyalty should be considered a good thing.
McCain and others are on the record as admitting that they knew that Hagel would eventually be confirmed despite their filibuster. [In fact most of them are on the record a week or so ago saying that they wouldn’t filibuster him, but that’s another story!] So their filibuster was never about influencing who would be the next Secretary of Defense. They knew he would be confirmed. Their filibuster did nothing more than block the Senate from confirming him.
This delay was political theater, pure and simple. It served no constructive purpose from the perspective of what’s good for America. The Republicans used it to try to keep alive their narrative that somehow Benghazi represents a huge failure of this administration, and they did it to try to punish a fellow Republican because they thought he had betrayed them.
If the Republicans spent half as much energy towards building up America as they do towards tearing down our President, I wonder where we might be today.