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U.S. Republican Senators John McCain (L) and Lindsey Graham talk during the Fiscal Responsibility Summit at the White House in Washington February 23, 2009.       REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque   (UNITED STATES)
BFFFs (best filibustering friends forever) John McCain and Lindsey Graham
Republicans have gotten themselves into the history books by filibustering Chuck Hagel's nomination for defense secretary, the first time a defense secretary nominee has ever been filibustered. But that show may be over soon: John McCain, the Republican spokesman on the Sunday morning talk shows if not actually someone who holds much sway over other lawmakers, said Sunday on Meet the Press (where else) that "I’m confident that Sen. Hagel will probably have the votes necessary to be confirmed as secretary of Defense."

Well, John McCain is confident that something will probably happen! So it is written so shall it be done?

One reason McCain can now acknowledge this probability—in addition to the Hagel filibuster having been pretty obvious theater all along—is that his current puppetmaster, Lindsey Graham, is sending the signals that he's put up enough of a fight to bolster himself against a likely primary challenge in 2014 and is now ready to move to the next manufactured fight. In his own Sunday talk show appearance, on Fox, Graham on the one hand called Hagel "one of the most unqualified, radical choices for secretary of Defense in a very long time" and on the other hand said "At the end of the day, this is the president’s decision. I give him great discretion." (Except when you filibustered the nomination, now isn't that right?)

The McCain-Graham relationship on this one is, as Politico paints it, its own little Greek tragedy in the making: McCain was reportedly planning to vote for Hagel until Graham prevailed on him to join the filibuster.

By reversing himself, McCain effectively sacrificed his own credibility to buy Graham more time to continue his campaign against Hagel—an issue that plays to Graham’s advantage as he prepares to run for reelection in 2014.

“This is just a bone thrown to Lindsey Graham, who keeps painting himself into corners and then pleading with friends to crawl in there with him in a vain attempt to save a little face,” one Republican insider told POLITICO.

My, my, doesn't that sound pathetic. Except it worked, producing a historic filibuster just weeks after Mitch McConnell pinky-promised Harry Reid that Republicans wouldn't filibuster quite so much. Now two big questions remain: Will the thing that John McCain was confident would probably happen actually happen? And which of the Sunday talk shows is currently remaking the bed and ordering up fresh flowers for McCain's permanent dressing room so that next Sunday he can explain to us all what happened this week?

Please sign the petition to tell Harry Reid: Re-open filibuster reform in light of continued Republican obstructionism.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:18 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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