Hagel and Brennan nominations on hold, will Hagel withdraw?getting worse by the day.'
He has the votes, but not much else. His big problem is that no one much wants him running the Pentagon. Congressional Republicans consider him a traitor. Congressional Democrats see him as anti-gay and anti-abortion, undercutting their support for him. And Northeastern Democrats (and some others) worry about his stance on Israel. Democratic support in the Senate appears more dutiful than passionate.
That said, I don't think that a Hagel exit would hurt President Obama much. SecDef nominees have blown up on the launch pad before: Remember John Tower (picked by the first President Bush) and Bobby Inman (picked by President Clinton to replace Les Aspin)? Interestingly, both were succeeded as nominees by men who went on to be very successful stewards of the military establishment: Dick Cheney and William Perry. Calling Michèle Flournoy?
The prospect of a Hagel regime at DOD is a real problem now because the next SecDef will need to do two things: Work with Congress to reduce the defense budget thoughtfully, and work with the military to re-shape the military to make it relevant to future conflict. At the moment, Hagel appears to lack the political capital to do the former, as well as the intellectual appetite to do the latter.
Bottom line: Every business day that the Senate Armed Services Committee doesn't vote to send the nomination to the full Senate, I think the likelihood of Hagel becoming defense secretary declines by about 2 percent.If that's the case, there's more bad news for Hagel this Sunday and for John Brennan (pictured, top left) as well: Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is placing a hold on all Obama administration national security nominees until the Senate gets some answers about Benghazigate (Hat Tip: Memeorandum). This is a transcript of Graham's appearance a short while ago on CBS' Face the Nation.
BOB SCHIEFFER (HOST): I’m not sure I understand. What do you plan to do if they don’t give you an answer? Are you going to put a hold on these two nominations?According to the Leftist Media Matters site, the Republicans have (with much evidence) accused President Obama of going AWOL on the night of the attack.
GRAHAM: Yes…How could Susan Rice come on to your show and say there’s no evidence of a terrorist attack when the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said they knew that night? I think that was a misleading narrative three weeks before our election.
SCHIEFFER: Let me just make sure, because you’re about to make some news here, I think. You are saying that you are going to block the nominations — you’re going to block them from coming to a vote until you get an answer to this? Now, John McCain has already said he doesn’t think the Republicans ought to filibuster this. What will you do? You’re just going to put a hold on it? [...]
GRAHAM: I want to know who changed the talking points. Who took the references to Al Qaeda out of the talking points given to Susan Rice? We still don’t know…. I want to know what our president did. What did he do as commander in chief? Did he ever pick up the phone and call anybody? I think this is the stuff the country needs to know.
Maybe that second term isn't going to go so easily after all.