Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma is the Ranking Member (senior Republican) on the Senate Armed Services Committee. He has promised National Review Online that he will lead a filibuster against the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. He says that he and “several” of his colleagues will place holds on the nomination and that it will be “a long, long time” before Hagel can expect a vote on the floor of the Senate. His rationale is that he believes that Mr. Hagel is anti-Israel. It is a somewhat astonishing accusation considering that the chairman of the Armed Services Committee Carl Levin is Jewish.
Hagel’s nomination will probably be approved by the Committee tomorrow on a party-line vote. There had been some discussion of the Republicans walking out in protest but McCain said that would be disrespectful of the chairman and not in the best traditions of the Armed Services Committee.
To win confirmation, Hagel will need five Republican votes, and he only has two on the record right now (Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Mike Johanns of Hagel’s home state of Nebraska). In the last twenty-three years, there has been only one cloture vote on a cabinet appointee. That was forced on Interior Secretary nominee Dick Kempthorne in 2006. The filibuster was defeated 85-8.
Filibustering a major cabinet position like State or Defense would be unprecedented. The reasoning is just plain nuts. There are currently 12 Jewish Senators (all Democrats) who are all going to vote for Hagel’s confirmation, yet we’re supposed to believe that some Presbyterian yahoo from Oklahoma knows better than they do who is and is not a friend of Israel? A man whose main accomplishment in life has been to drive the Quaker Life Insurance Company into bankruptcy and liquidation? A man so deep in the pockets of Big Oil that he’s been calling climate change a hoax since 2003? A man who is such a reckless pilot that one man complained to the FAA, “I’ve got over 50 years flying, three tours of Vietnam, and I can assure you I have never seen such a reckless disregard for human life in my life. Something needs to be done. This guy is famous for these violations.”
I’ve said before that I don’t care whether Hagel is confirmed or not, but I’ll put the president up against Jim Inhofe any day. Let the people decide who is being unreasonable here.