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Chuck Hagel Confirmed For Pentagon, GOP Congratulates Itself

by Carl Wicklander, published
(Credit: BBC)

(Credit: BBC)

There's something to be said about concision, and National Review Online's Daniel Foster manages to be wrong about so much with fewer than 50 words:

"It's hard to overstate the courage of the Republicans who briefly delayed Hagel's confirmation. Think the Greeks at Thermopylae - or maybe not, because Chuck isn't keen on checking the ol' Persian Incursion. But truly, songs will be sung."

Let it first be said that Republicans, regardless of how much Jennifer Rubin might be patting them on the back, did not win anything in this confirmation fight. Millions were spent by private groups to slime Chuck Hagel and all Sen. Ted Cruz got were charges of McCarthyism.

Of course, Foster might want to get his history right. We all know about the bravery of the 300 Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae against Xerxes' army of thousands of Persian invaders. But the last time I checked, Iran isn't invading Greece. (or Israel. Or America. Or...)

I might want to remind Mr. Foster: all the Greeks at Thermopylae died defending their post. At least 20 Republicans voted for cloture instead of fighting against the inevitable, making this more like fighting and fighting . . . and then opening the city gate.

And if the Republicans are the 300 Spartans, then is Hagel one of the Persians? Or is he one of the Greeks since Foster the historian thinks, "Chuck isn't keen on checking on checking the ol' Persian Incursion?"

Not to be outdone, Foster's NRO colleague Andrew Stiles later wrote of the confirmation outcome: "Friends of Hamas was not immediately available for comment."

"Friends of Hamas," we may remember, was the (supposedly) over-the-top fictitious name New York Daily News reporter Dan Friedman made up to refer to Hagel's unsavory foreign ties Republicans were looking for.

The GOP became a running joke on late night TV because of the zealousness with which they believed obvious hyperbole. That a writer like Stiles casually mentioned this in the context of the Republican loss only shows that little care is being given to how foolish they made themselves.

Thankfully, this confirmation process is over. Chuck Hagel isn't my dream candidate for secretary of defense, president, or senator. But he showed courage in turning against the Iraq war he once supported. He showed courage again when he didn't rescind his name from this nomination.

At heart, I believe Hagel is still an interventionist, albeit a much less strident one. If there's a consensus for a particular intervention, a la Libya, I expect him to go along. But if he's truly learned the lesson of Iraq, then there's hope Hagel can be a voice of caution against some "damned foolish thing" in Iran.

But as for the Republicans in all this, they are the true losers in this fight even if there is no Chuck Hagel constitutency that is going to rebel against them.

In demonizing a qualified nominee over imaginary sins against Israel and alleged weakness against Iran, Republicans made a spectacle of themselves. Even in defeat, Republicans and their mouthpieces don't appear ashamed of the money and time lost or any of the fictions they believed.

By stonewalling a cabinet nominee the way they would an ACLU-SPLC-Planned-Parenthood-approved Supreme Court nominee, we all learned, if we didn't before, exactly where their bread is buttered.

And it isn't on the side of foreign policy prudence.


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