‘No’ Votes On Hagel Mount After Hearings – But Confirmation Is Likely

Former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) during his confirmation hearings for the post of Secretary of Defense before the Senate Armed Services Committee seems to have vindicated his critics. Not only did he appear incompetent, but he stumbled through his explanations over several issues, including Iran, nuclear disarmament, and Israel. He even failed to explain the contradictions between his voting record and past statements versus the positions he puts forth today.

The Weekly Standard came to a conclusion regarding Hagel back at the beginning of January. William Kristol wrote,

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In the three weeks since Chuck Hagel’s name emerged as President Barack Obama’s likely choice as the next secretary of defense, there’s been a lively, if lopsided, debate about his qualifications for the job. The debate’s been lopsided because the arguments for Hagel have been so startlingly weak. It’s not just that those arguing for Hagel form an unusually motley crew, even by the standards of the anti-Israel swamp in which many of them frolic. What’s striking about the case for Hagel is its absence. His backers can cite no significant legislation for which Hagel was responsible in his two terms in the Senate. They can quote no memorable speeches that Hagel delivered and can cite no profound passages from the book he authored. They can summarize no perceptive Hagelian analysis of defense or foreign policy, and can appeal to no acts of management or leadership by the man they’d have as our next secretary of defense.

Hagel Chuck

The fact is that those legislative achievements, intellectual insights, or management triumphs don’t exist. A long and comprehensive history of the Senate during Chuck Hagel’s tenure there could be written that would barely mention him. A long and comprehensive account of American foreign and defense policy in the last thirty years would hardly note his existence.

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Others are catching on as well. “America is at a delicate moment of transition in defense policy and spending,” said Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America. “Sen. Hagel has not proposed serious alternatives during these, or other, defense policy fights; nor has he made any significant contribution — either in office or out — to the even more fundamental questions about the future of U.S. defense posture, the shape and function of the defense establishment, or chronic and complicated spending problems at the Pentagon.”

Hegseth went on to call Hagel’s service in Vietnam and later work on veterans issues “unquestioned.”

“Both of these facts would make him a great secretary of Veterans Affairs, but not necessarily secretary of defense,” he said. “Sen. Hagel is the wrong man at the wrong time to lead the Department of Defense.”

The GOP votes against Hagel seem to be mounting. According to The Hill:

Twelve Republican senators now say they will vote against former Sen. Chuck Hagel’s (R-Neb.) confirmation as Defense secretary.

Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.), Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Richard Burr (N.C.) became the latest “no” votes on Friday, saying they would oppose Hagel’s nomination one day after a shaky confirmation hearing in which Hagel was grilled by Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Dan Coats (Ind.) said Thursday they were voting against Hagel.

Several more Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), haven’t said how they will vote, but are clearly leaning against voting to confirm him.

The other Republicans who have said they will vote against Hagel are Sens. John Cornyn (TX), James Inhofe (OK), Ted Cruz (TX), David Vitter (LA), Roger Wicker (MS), Pat Roberts (Kan.) and Tom Coburn (Okla.).

Sen. Thad Cochran (MS) is the only Republican who has said that he will support Hagel’s confirmation.

Senator Blunt said, “My strong inclination would be that this is a vote that should be done by a majority rather than a 60-vote standard.”

Sen. Burr said, “After reviewing the hearing, and Sen. Hagel’s answers to the questions put to him, it is clear that I cannot support his nomination, and I will vote against his nomination should it reach the Senate floor.”

Joel Pollack writes why he believes that Hagel will get the confirmation. “It is clear that Hagel’s success is critically important to the Obama administration,” he writes, “which seems to have guided his pre-hearing visits with Senate critics and Jewish organizations, and used the Pentagon to lobby hard for his confirmation. The opening statement by two former Senate Armed Services Committee chairs, the bipartisan duo of Sam Nunn (D-GA) and John Warner (R-VA), was well orchestrated–though Warner’s prediction that Hagel’s own opening statement would answer every objection may have set expectations he could not possibly meet.”

“It is precisely because this nomination is so important to the White House,” Pollack continues, “and the radical foreign policy it wishes to assert, that Hagel is still likely to win confirmation. The vote will not be about Hagel; it will be about Obama, and the current crop of Democrats has shown little will to dissent from the presidential line.”

So far there has been no threat of a filibuster by Republicans. Without that, it looks as if he will be confirmed.

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