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I have no appetite for defending the likes of (sigh) Chuck Hagel, but it is at least interesting to note that the debate over whether to make him secretary of defense will have, for many Republicans, almost nothing to do with whether to make him secretary of defense:
Republicans, smarting after the debacle in the House GOP caucus in the lead-up to the fiscal cliff mini-deal, are looking to notch a win on the scoreboard, while mindful of the politics of holding up presidential prerogative on Cabinet appointees. For foreign policy wonks, it is a pivot point for a debate about the post-Bush doctrine of the Republican party.
Thank goodness! For a moment I was worried that a single thing would go by that was not devoted primarily to whether Republicans could screw with Obama just because they felt like it. (On another note, is there a debate about the post-Bush foreign policy doctrine of the Republican Party? One that is actually different from the Bush doctrine, and not just the same thing with the name Bush carefully scrubbed off the bumper?)
Given Hagel’s status as a former senator with no natural constituency in either party, each senator has parochial political concerns to consider in weighing a confirmation vote. Many senators didn’t like Hagel personally, not just politically, two Republican operatives pointed out.

The White House knows “this is an in-your-face pick,” said Republicans strategist Curt Anderson. “To Republicans, he’s not just a moderate Republican. … It’s that he’s an apostate Republican.”

The list of none-apostate Republicans can be counted on Steve King's two hands and two feet with a few toes left over, but yes, Obama picked an actual Republican to head the defense department, only to be met with complaints from Republicans that the Republican he chose wasn't Republican enough. That's the state of things.

John Brennan (sigh, again) has his own confirmation problems. No, not all of that stuff he was involved with—silly you. No, it's just that some Republicans aren't going to let any appointment to the post get past them without using it as a hostage taking opportunity, and Lindsey Graham says Brennan shouldn't be confirmed until something something Benghazi conspiracy theory:

“I have not forgotten about the Benghazi debacle and still have many questions about what transpired before, during and after the attack on our consulate,” Graham said. “In that regard, I do not believe we should confirm anyone as director of the CIA until our questions are answered – like who changed Ambassador Susan Rice’s talking points and deleted the references to Al-Qaeda?”

“My support for a delay in confirmation is not directed at Mr. Brennan, but is an unfortunate, yet necessary action to get information from this administration,” Graham said.

"Not directed at Mr. Brennan" is a nice, terse way of saying, straight up, that Mr. Brennan's confirmation or lack thereof will have nothing to do with Mr. Brennan, which, sweet Jesus, may just pass for business as usual among the hostage-takers. It is also a reminder of why filibuster reform really ought to be a thing, this session, because the number of things being blocked due to other things has at this point grown to include all the things, and this is why we can't have nice things.

Since my patience for all of government is at an ebb, I will just say, as politely as possible, that the last month has certainly given ample evidence that our great leaders have had no sudden onset of competence. We are back to the same dynamic, in which one of the two political parties is so obsessed with blocking anything the president might possibly like that even the most primitive functions of government (say, paying their bills) can go to hell, if that's what it takes, and the same conspiracy theories jumping from some random J. Alfred Crackpot to Fox News guests to actual congressional hearings, and the same moral poster boys of the Moral Party getting arrested for doing illegal and deeply immoral things, only to have their party standing increased, not decreased, in the aftermath. Business as usual.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Republican modus operandi (9+ / 0-)

    "We will not do our jobs unless you do something we want".

    They expect to be bribed for everything. I guess that's not surprising.

    Economics is a social *science*. Can we base future economic decisions on math?

    by blue aardvark on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 04:33:40 PM PST

    •  And if you do something they want they quickly (9+ / 0-)

      forget about it and demand you do something else in addition to that thing they forgot but won't let you change. :P

      Give a Republican an inch and he'll take a yard and bill you for a mile.

      What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

      by ontheleftcoast on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 04:37:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I am OK with Hagel's nom. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      poco, blue aardvark, Matt Z
      It’s that he’s an apostate Republican.
      That's good enough for me.

      Plus, I like the finger poke right in the eye of the neocons that this nom is.

      Plus, Hagel was against the Bush/Cheney/Rummie neocon Iraq war very early on. I liked that, and people here have forgotten that.

      •  "Sigh" for Hagel? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ploopie, LEP

        I do not understand, Hunter, not at all.
        I, like ploopie, am very good on the Hagel appointment
        and after some meaningless RepubliCon sturm und drang,
        expect to see Hagel confirmed and in a good manner. He
        represents what the current tea-party-trash Reps. would
        like to be -- a smart, decent, thoughtful, nice person; and
        most of what we see from RepubliCon ranks is anything
        but that.
        Hunter -- kerb your enthusiasm!  Just simmer down and
        wait and watch while the Obama administration -- at long last -- gets
        down into something useful. Hagel has one job to do -- restrain
        spending and win the services' cooperation in that, which I
        believe he can do. Kerry will do well, Brennen will do well I
                                  JOE BIDEN TO THE RESCUE

        Best of all Biden will do well -- at last he is being employed in
        a manner that really suits him and where he is potent: politics! Biden deseves credit for more than has been recognized; he shoved Obama over the fence on gay rights -- and big credit goes to Joe for the recent deal that stopped us before the fiscal cliff fiasco.  And now he's got a very very good change to get a lot of important gun restriction laws passed.  Biden is everything Obama is not!!  He does not fear confrontation and he can make deals -- again, he is a politician. Obama, despite what he says and thinks about himself, most certainly is not a politician. He's a good orator, a fair rhetorician and a decent good man who wants to do the right thing --- but in the Washington quagmire he most often does not know how.  Joe Biden does and at last Obama is using Joe to highly effective ends.
        In other words, Obama has found a way to govern and lead.
        Thank god. So he has to share the office of President?  Great! As long as it gets done.
        Remember, Harry Truman had to use Geo. Marshall to get the great and good Truman plan for the rebuilding of Europe done, by calling it the Marshall plan and by using Marshall to do what Truman could not do with a mean RepubliCon congress.  Looks like Obama is faced with the same problem Truman had, and i find it interesting and hopeful that he's found a way to get the job done -- at long last.  I dearly hope this Obama-Biden government keeps working!

  •  I have a cunning plan... (10+ / 0-)

    Have Obama nominate, one by one, every Republican Senator and watch the GOP eviscerate each of them in turn simply because Obama picked them. Sure, it wouldn't accomplish anything useful, but that's pretty much guaranteed with the GOP clown circus already. Let's go for entertaining government if we can't get functional government.

    What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

    by ontheleftcoast on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 04:34:37 PM PST

  •  That's a good idea leftcoast, I had the same (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    randallt, ontheleftcoast, msmacgyver


    Stick ol' Graham himself in there and watch McCain be jealous.......then they couldn't say bupkiss unless authorized by the President. Apparently Obama doesn't listen to his cabinet anyway. So rout the Republican Senators and stick them in a locked cabinet.

  •  Think You Hit the Nail on The Head....... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  It was surreal yesterday (6+ / 0-)

    to hear Danielle Pletka, leading the anti-Hagel charge, contend the opinions of Israeli politicians like Ehud Barak and Danny Ayalon were irrelevant to determining whether or not Hagel is "anti-Israel."

    And then in another  interview she called Brennan's statements on jihad "Orwellian"!

    The girl is a piece of work...

    When the union's inspiration /Through the workers' blood shall run /There can be no power greater /Anywhere beneath the sun /Solidarity Forever!

    by litho on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 04:45:29 PM PST

  •  I am prepared to repeat this often: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    msmacgyver, Nada Lemming, Matt Z
    Since my patience for all of government is at an ebb...
    I really don't expect much improvement over the next two years.

    The most violent element in society is ignorance.

    by Mr MadAsHell on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 04:47:40 PM PST

    •  This is how Republicans win. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, Mr MadAsHell

      And no, I am not going to scold. Just pointing out how successful they've been since 1981.

      "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

      by bryduck on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 04:57:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I understand completely where you are coming from. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        But for me, when my patience is "at an ebb," that is when I'm most motivated to take action.  So, I expect to be spitting mad for the next several years (at least), starting, oh, say, 2010.

        The most violent element in society is ignorance.

        by Mr MadAsHell on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 09:13:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Me, too. Anger is a powerfully motivating (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mr MadAsHell

          For awhile.
          But one only has so much energy, and these windmills have been standing unchallenged for 30 years now . . .

          "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

          by bryduck on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 09:16:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Post of the year (0+ / 0-)

    (yeah, I know it's January 9th)

  •  It never changes (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    msmacgyver, Mister T, Not A Bot, Matt Z

    The dems did the same thing in the Bush era. When will it stop?  More specifically, when will people stop feigning outrage when their guy's picks are blocked. Snore. All pols are crooks. Plain and simple.

  •  the more the opposition hates on hagel (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poco, Matt Z

    the crazier about him i get

    I especially enjoy listening to lindsay-the-cracker denigrate personal favorite

    "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

    by Sybil Liberty on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 04:52:18 PM PST

  •  Why the hell do Dem presidents (3+ / 0-)

    have to nominate Republicans for defense secretary?

  •  There are days when my wife and I look at one (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    atana, KayCeSF, wonmug

    another and wonder why and how we ever got interested in political crap in the beginning.

    What is the bleeding point?

    Yes, we should push for work on climate change and protection for the working class and other issues on that level of importance, but almost all of the rest is shit. All of this back and forth stuff is total shit, and is beneath our getting worked up about it.

    The energy should be put into rational and humane change whenever and wherever we can, and not into "personalities."

    "They come, they come To build a wall between us We know they won't win."--Crowded House, "Don't Dream It's Over."

    by Wildthumb on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 04:56:46 PM PST

  •  Enlisted man versus Republican oligarchy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    native, poco

    They didn't like him for class reasons even before he went all apostate and started criticizing the bumbling Bush/Cheney policies.

    Enlisted folks that actually fight and bleed for their country don't make the inner circles of Republican power anymore.

    Hagel is in the mold of sane Republicans who used to just be wrong on economics and somewhat agnostic on social issues.

    I like what I know of him although I'd have picked a Democrat for any number of reasons, but I'll at least take some solace in watching how pissed it'll make the Bushies.

    "extravagant advantage for the few, ultimately depresses the many." FDR

    by Jim R on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 04:59:16 PM PST

    •  Precisely. Sometimes a man is better defined (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim R

      by who his enemies are, than by who his friends are.

    •  I'll never understand why Obama hasn't made (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim R

      more of the class divide between the two parties. Sure, elites dominate both parties these days, and both serve the interests of fellow elites. But the GOP is vastly more so. Whenever they cry "class warfare" you know that they're terrified of it. Why not just give it to them, then?

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 05:51:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We live in the age of DLC Democrats (3+ / 0-)

        who are terrified of being seen as "far left".

        Although President Obama, to his somewhat cynical credit, recognized being seen as a DLC'er wouldn't get him very far either, ergo populist rhetoric-center right policies and excuses about the politics of the possible.

        That liberal policies mostly work and conservative ones inevitably fail gets lost in the strategery.

        "extravagant advantage for the few, ultimately depresses the many." FDR

        by Jim R on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 06:08:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  To rise to the top of either party (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jim R, bmastiff, LEP

          requires that one kiss the ass of big money. It simply can't be avoided. I know that there are apparent exceptions like Sanders and Warren, but they're not near the top of the party, and Sanders isn't even technically a Dem.

          The Dem leadership is Obama, Reid, Pelosi, and their top lieutenants like Durbin, Hoyer, Clyburn and Murray. All have deep ties to big money. Which precludes their adopting too much of a class warfare platform, because obviously that war would be waged against their financial backers.

          But Obama's just concluded his last election and I seriously doubt that Biden's got any chance at the presidency. So why not go for broke and adopt a more progressive agenda? Well, they still have to work with the Dem leadership, which has future elections to worry about, and Obama doesn't want to enter the post-presidency on the wrong side of big money. It'll make the difference between building houses for the poor and giving $100k speeches for the rest of his life. And having come from near-poverty and later worked with the poor, Obama's not interested in revisiting that. He wants to continue the ultra-charmed life. And that can't involve genuine class warfare.

          Look, I don't think he's a bad man. I think he means well. But he's a weak man, whose dreams exceed his ability to realize them. He's also a vain man, sensitive to criticism and uninterested in risk. He's not a big agenda kind of guy. In words, sure, but in practice, not so much. Everything he's done has been half a loaf. A good loaf, but still half of one. So he's not the one to look to to make this happen. Nor are leading Dems. We are, along with less powerful but more progressive Dems, like Sanders and Warren.

          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

          by kovie on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 07:03:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Never EVER forget that these Republicans... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heart of the Rockies, Matt Z

    ...supported the nomination of...Harriet Miers on SCOTUS!!

  •  Brennan's their guy (6+ / 0-)

    They love them some "enhanced interrogation" and "warrantless wiretapping of everyone" and other manly man chest-thumping on national security.  Gotta be "tough".  Gotta strut.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 05:01:45 PM PST

  •  linzy graham makes me ill... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    why does he hate america?

    Howard Fineman needs to have a chat with Chris Cilizza about Grecian Formula and its effects on punditry

    by memofromturner on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 05:03:03 PM PST

  •  The Farce is strong with the GOP (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kovie, wonmug

    and the Farce will be with them always

    As the Elites Come Together to Rise Above to Find a Third Way to do Rude things to the 99%

    by JML9999 on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 05:03:35 PM PST

    Recommended by:
    akmk, ratcityreprobate

    Take the gun out of the infants' hands.

    •  Be happy if it simply gets modified. (0+ / 0-)

      It won't be abolished. Not in our lifetime if ever.  Listen to Kagro In The Morning to get a sense of how the Senate operates. I'm seeing that just bringing back a talking filibuster is a tall order.

      •  Oh sure it will. The GOPbags will get rid of it... (0+ / 0-)

        ... the very instant they ever take control of the Senate again.

        Given what they have done in state legislatures nationwide, only an idiot would doubt this for a second.

        Once the GOPbags get the hammer in their hands, they will use it.

        •  Again, Kagro X shows that Senate rules don't allow (0+ / 0-)

 side to just willy-nilly go in and kill something like that. Listen to his show. You can't fart in the Senate without having 4 rules that have something to say about it. The Senate has a long history of each party finding the shoe on the other foot and not liking it. On the other hand, if the GOP had won they would be modifying the rules as Dems seem poised to do. And just like now, it would not be certain that it will happen in less than a few cycles. In fact our side is more likely to do it because the Dems are under so much rare pressure from outside the Senate to do it as their base is expecting them to. It would take the GOP a couple of cycles of similar Democratic abuse for the teabaggers to understand the need for outside pressure to be applied. The more you understand the Senate, the more you'll understand that they all kind of like having the filibuster. When used properly, that is, only in special circumstances, it is an important tool to keep minority interests from being trampled. But a talking filibuster makes it hard to use so that it's only used rarely and it's more of an act of desperation. Most Senators are loath to eliminate it and will continue to be so.

          •  ALEC will order the GOPbags (0+ / 0-)

            ... to eliminate the filibuster so their agenda can be rammed through and like obedient lapdogs they will obey.

            They follow the same blueprint in ever legislative body they take over. They brook no opposition and eliminate all procedural and administrative roadblocks to ramming through their agenda as quickly as possible.

            •  Republicans might kill it. (0+ / 0-)

              Or they might just neutralize parts of the rule that they need out of the way, as the situation calls for. That's what they were going to do in 2005. Not kill the filibuster, but disallow its use on judicial nominations. Because that's what they were having trouble with.

              And Dems will attempt to avoid having this happen by agreeing to tread lightly, and not use the filibuster in whatever situation it is that the Republicans start complaining about. In other words, they'll preserve the existence of the filibuster by declining to use it.

              But none of this bears much on the current situation, which is this: there are very, very few reformers on the Dem side who actually want to vote to eliminate the filibuster. We can advise them to do so all we want, but Senators hold things extremely close to the vest on matters of the rules, and they don't like the rest of us prying.

  •  Why does the Senate GOP care about the House GOP? (0+ / 0-)

    So it's the Senate that confirms, not the House.

    I know we enjoy solidarity when it comes to Democrats, and so one can't necessarily expect the GOP to split, but all the same you have to wonder why on Earth the Senate Republicans care at all about the House GOP's hurt feelings.

    I mean, Senate Republicans didn't get beat in the fiscal cliff deal, they almost all voted for it! You'd think they'd manage to gather some sort of pride as a group that would be able to transcend the pan-right sulking. You're only beat if you're on the losing side of a deal, and the Senate GOP seem intent on acting like the losers even when they were together on the winning side...

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 05:13:01 PM PST

  •  Not exactly business as usual. (5+ / 0-)

    Hagel's appointment signals a shift in US policy toward Israel. Obama, flanked by Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey, will be in a stronger position to push for compromise in Middle East affairs.

    Obama wants and needs the military establishment covering his back. Hagel is just the man to provide it.

  •  Hagel I can take or leave (7+ / 0-)

    But I really really hope Brennan goes down in flames.

    The only committee he should be in front of is a Grand Jury.

    You may think that. I couldn't possibly comment.-- Francis Urqhart

    by Johnny Q on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 05:19:25 PM PST

    •  I tend to agree with you there, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Heart of the Rockies

      but the CIA is a monster. An out-of-control wild horse. No executive appointment would have the ability to rein it in, without significant influence within the Agency. Brennan does have at least some influence.

      He also has the mindset of a True Believer, which I agree is very worrisome.

    •  I am going to call my Senators tomorrow (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nada Lemming

      .. and urge them to vote against Brennan.

      Glennzilla, with his usual clarity, explains why this nomination is so offensive.

      -8.88, -9.59 In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher. -Tenzin Gyatso, H.H. the Dalai Lama

      by BobSoperJr on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 05:48:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Women appointees? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Is Obama going to appoint any women to any of these vacancies? Just wondering....

    "When you give back all your ill-gotten gains, you're a reformed crook. When you keep most of the loot and only give back a small part of it, you're a philanthropist." - Alfred E. Newman

    by Abstract668 on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 05:21:35 PM PST

  •  flu to you, gopers. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    i just ate. want the food to stay in tummy.
    finding four more years of kindiegarten nauseating.
    another litre of sprite, please, on ice, with a bendy straw, and i'm headed back to the puffy sofa piled with pillows.

    hunter's sighs can affect the climate.

    ontheleftcoast's comment below (and sig) is good.

    sausage is just "off" meat with spices. so's a gop-er.

    * Join: The Action: End the Bush Tax Cuts for Richest Two Percent * Addington's Perpwalk: TRAILHEAD of Accountability for Bush-2 Crimes.

    by greenbird on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 05:36:47 PM PST

  •  I personally find it amusing (0+ / 0-)

    They are as moral ants beneath Obama's presidential boot.

  •  So about that torture stuff (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Not A Bot, wonmug, Nada Lemming, Noodles

    we used to hate and rail about. You know when we wanted investigations and criminal charges? Holding people accountable and all that. Never mind. Brennan's OUR torturer now. Move along. Nothing to see. Hey look! Gun control!

  •  Obama could nominate Cheney for CIA (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and Murdoch for HHS and Repubs would still give him a hard time.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 05:46:40 PM PST

  •  I was willing to go along with Hagel (0+ / 0-)

    even though he is conservative, until Rachel pointed out that he thinks women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan who get raped by their colleagues shouldn't have access to abortions, much less having them paid for.  I'm sorry, anyone that anti-woman does not belong in any Democratic administration.

    We should not be fighting about equal pay for equal work and access to birth control in 2012. Elizabeth Warren

    by Leftleaner on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 05:53:38 PM PST

  •  Republicans care more about Israel than... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heart of the Rockies, Noodles

    ...they do America.  And the only reason conservatives want to protect them, is to save the People of Israel for Jesus to come back and slaughter, according to some insane Biblical prophesy.  Seven-headed monsters coming out of the ocean and whatnot.  

    It wouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that there are Senators and Congressmen who not only believe this craziness, with all their heart, but they base their foreign policy decisions on it.  And one of the worst ones just got reappointed to the House Intelligence Committee.

    •  I think that $150 MILLION from Sheldon Adelson (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      might be what makes them weak in the knees:

      Think of beagles jumping and barking for a doggie treat.

      The only religion they respect is Rev John Hagee's "prosperity doctrine"-- the idea that if you are rich it is because God wants it.  

      Plus they like the idea that the  FEC doesn't audit who is putting what in a church's collection plate.

  •  Here's a thought (0+ / 0-)

    The Republicans routinely, and for the wrong reason, keep the president from shooting off his own foot.  For that he should thank them.  Or something.  I got nothing.

    "I'm a Republican from the 80s". - The most "liberal" president in my lifetime.

    by Nada Lemming on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 08:04:03 PM PST

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