I’ve scanned several articles to get an idea why they moved up the Hagel cloture vote to this afternoon instead of Friday. So far, I didn’t find the answer, I will make a guess. It appears the Republicans and Democrats have finally found something to agree on: Take Friday off and Leave Town.
OH, no no no, you say. They will be in Session tomorrow.
Yes, but will there be votes? I don’t think so.
Harry Reid has called the hand of the Republicans, moved for a cloture vote Friday. A vote for cloture isn’t a vote on the nomination—“an up or down vote”–it’s a vote on whether they should vote on the nomination.
So Reid is trying to force a vote. But really, what is going on?
The Republicans are messing with Hagel and the White House. Sen. McCain says he won’t support a filibuster, now he’s not so sure. Same thing with Hatch and probably several others. Hagel is stonewalling on providing some financial info and other answers, so they are making him wait. Just to squirt a little gasoline on the fire, a few days ago, Dick Cheney laid out his stark view that Hagel was chosen so that Obama would “have a Republican that he can use to take the heat for what he plans to do to the Department of Defense.” Ouch. So the GOP is not going to play along, but is going to try to showcase what they will say is the destruction of our national defense.
For Hagel, it has to be humiliating. Only two votes from your own party? Those who know you best turn their back?
If Hagel can’t get sixty votes–cloture– on Friday, surely the White House will have to withdraw the nomination.
If he gets the sixty, he will be confirmed, of course, but he will be missing a chunk out of his hind quarters.
Still time to vote in my poll!
A rare consensus seems to have formed in Washington: Chuck Hagel was not good in his hearing. Not even a little good. Most of the press reports characterize the questioning as partisan, with Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post snarking that the Republican anger was rooted in Hagel’s abandonment of the GOP. But still, the pundits were not impressed.
So what happens next?
Hagel has promised to provide more information to the committee on his finances and his speeches. Chairman Levin said they wanted to move the nomination next week. That won’t give much time for analysis of the information, of course. Right now, Hagel still has the votes-He only needs a majority and he has roughly 56, including Sen. Cochran. Sen. Graham extracted a promise to hold a hearing on Benghazi before the vote. Who knows what will shake loose in those discussions. Also, if enough time passes, and enough microphones are in place, it is quite possible more Hagel gaffes will take place. Although the greater likelihood is that he will be gagged, bound, encased in amber, perhaps hidden at the Smithsonian until after the vote, unseen and unheard.
The only question is, if the Republicans try to block the nomination, does he have 60 votes to stop them. And if it comes to that, does the administration want to take on that fight? Waste political capital on someone who had interviews with Al Jazeera, alienates key donors, who seems inept and, who would be viewed by the world as having weak support in the Congress? How exactly will they spin that? Will he be their token White Male?
At the end of the day, again, the Democrats have the votes. We don’t know if the Republicans will have the stomach for the fight, or whether their calculus will be to let the President have his people and let him be accountable for the consequences.
Given his performance in the hearing, more than anything else, that should alarm the Democrats.