We Almost Have a New Secretary of Defense

The Senate has voted, 71-27, to end debate on Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Secretary of Defense.  That hurdle needed 60 votes.

The confirmation vote is at 4:30 EST today.  He will need just a simple majority for that, and with 55 Democrats in the Senate, he is assured of being confirmed.  Plus he’ll get some GOP votes.

The crazies will of course keep looking for those “Friends of Hamas” until the votes are cast.


GOP Senators Ask Obama to Withdraw Hagel

Sen. Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas has sent a letter to President Obama asking him to withdraw Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Secretary of Defense.

Fourteen additional GOP senators signed the letter, including Cornyn’s fellow Texan, Ted Cruz, of course.  The other senators are Lindsey “Butters” Graham and Tim Scott of Texas, Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, David “Diapers” Vitter of Louisiana, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Marco Rubio of Florida, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Mike Lee of Utah, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Jim Risch of Idaho, Dan Coats of Indiana, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

John McCain didn’t sign and neither did his new sidekick, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who has replaced Joe Lieberman as the third McCain/Graham amigo.

The letter made no reference to Friends of Hamas.


Hagel Haters Couldn’t Take — or Recognize — a Joke

We in the reality-based community know that the group “Friends of Hamas” doesn’t exist except in the fevered imaginations of those who hate the President and his pick for DoD, Chuck Hagel.

Today we learned the origin of the bizarre “Friends” trope.  Dan Friedman of the New York Daily News explains* how he made up the name and threw it out jokingly — or so he thought! — in a conversation with a GOP aide on the Hill.  He also mentioned the “Junior League of Hezbollah” for good measure.  Friedman writes:

“The names were so over-the-top, so linked to terrorism in the Middle East, that it was clear I was talking hypothetically and hyperbolically.  No one could take seriously the idea that organizations with those names existed — let alone that a former senator would speak to them.  Or so I thought.”

Dan Friedman, you  obviously thought wrong.  First of all, these folks have no sense of humor, they are self-righteously grim.  Second, they believe the president is determined to destroy our way of life, so it stands to reason his cabinet picks must be evil too, especially in the second term when the president doesn’t have to run again and can show his true Kenyan Muslim Communist colors.

Anyway, next thing Friedman knew, Breitbart.com had a “Friends of Hamas” story and the rest of the neocon/Tea Party world picked it up and ran with it.

This preposterous and pathetic little story tells you everything you need you know about our politics right now.  The “Friends of Stupid” have way too much power.

* “‘Friends of Hamas’:  My role in the birth of a rumor”

GOP Delays Hagel Vote Till After Recess

On a 58-40 vote, the GOP prevented an up or down vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination today.  The nomination will be taken up again when the Senate returns from recess in ten days.  The GOP will use the extra time to try to dig up disqualifying dirt on their former colleague.

Having said he would hold the vote tomorrow morning, Majority Leader Harry Reid changed his mind, and shortly after 3 P. M. this afternoon said that the vote would be at 4:15 today.


McCain Says Hagel and Obama Are Welcome on His Lawn

John McCain says the White House has answered his questions about Benghazi to his satisfaction.  Now he’s trying to get answers to Ted Cruz’s questions about Chuck Hagel himself.

If they can make Cruz happy (good luck with that), there won’t be a filibuster, and there will be an up or down (and it will be up) vote on Hagel tomorrow, and he can catch his flight to the NATO meeting in Brussels.

The GOP really doesn’t need another empty chair photo.


GOP Holds Up Hagel

Claiming that they want more information from Chuck Hagel about his past and from the White House about Benghazi, GOP senators are maneuvering to ensure his nomination doesn’t get an up or down vote tomorrow.  With the Senate then on recess next week, the earliest he could be confirmed would be February 25.

Meanwhile, NATO defense ministers are meeting in Brussels next week, with Afghanistan prominently on the agenda, and of course President Obama wants Hagel to be there.  The GOP seems to have a weird fondness for empty chairs.  The Clint Eastwood convention stunt was just pathetic, but a NATO meeting is a BFD.

All 55 Senate Dems will vote for Hagel and 2 Republicans have said they will too, so the Administration has more than the simple majority it needs for the nomination itself.  What it doesn’t have are the 60 votes needed for cloture to end debate and bring the nomination to the floor.

Some GOP senators have said that while they will vote against Hagel, they don’t support the filibuster to prevent that vote, but it looks as if some of these senators don’t want to buck their party to end the filibuster tomorrow.

McCain Tells Obama To Get Off His Lawn

… and take Chuck Hagel with him.

Having agreed that he wouldn’t filibuster Chuck Hagel’s nomination, John McCain now says that he might, unless President Obama provides more information about his conduct on the night of the Benghazi terror attack.

A Bit Much, Even for Her

“In sum, when and if Hagel gets through he will be a marginal figure, not likely to be given sensitive tasks and unable to carry weight with lawmakers. For Hagel critics and those privately fretting that he is in well over his head, there is consolation in knowing he’ll be a non-player. The choice of deputy secretary of defense then will take on new importance. Who is really going to run the Pentagon?”  Italics in original.

Jennifer Rubin, Right Turn, WaPo

A “marginal figure,” “a non-player,” when Obama thinks so highly of him?  You don’t go through all this just to ignore the guy.