Which is to say, a complete failure as a leader in the Senate, except to follow his own idiosyncratic idea of Senate collegiality, or some other outdated and chivalrous notion, or perhaps some sort of self-serving strategic move that I don’t understand but has become typical of his long and largely counter-productive Senate career:
Sen. John McCain appears to have cleared the way Monday for Chuck Hagel to be the next secretary of defense.
The Arizona Republican, who has been a prominent voice in the debate over Hagel, said Monday he would oppose any attempt to filibuster the nomination, likely dooming any attempt by Senate conservatives to sustain a protracted procedural fight to delay Hagel’s confirmation.
Why? Well, it would be “inappropriate,” don’t you see? I not only don’t understand that, I don’t even think that’s McCain’s reason. Perhaps he sees a chance to influence Hagel if Hagel wins the nomination? If so, that’s a case of hubris, IMHO.
There are others who seem to be on McCain’s side:
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) has said he will oppose Hagel but doesn’t want to raise the ante. “I don’t want to filibuster. We don’t want to go that way,” he said. “It is a choice that could lead to a lot more problems.”
Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) also expressed reservations about any filibuster but were not ready to commit to a cloture vote.
“In general I am very reluctant to filibuster Cabinet nominees,” Collins said. “It would be a high standard that would have to be met before I would think that a filibuster of a cabinet nominee were appropriate.”
We expect that from Collins of Maine, but the others? What problems could this lead to that the Republicans in the Senate don’t already have (I doubt they’re talking about problems for the nation)?
And does anyone think for a single moment that the Democrats, in a similar position, would consider that a “high standard…would have to be met before [they] would think that a filibuster of a cabinet nominee were appropriate?”
I’ve said from the start that Hagel would be nominated, so in a way it’s no surprise. But it’s still infuriating. I think one of the reasons people get so frustrated with Republicans in Congress, and particularly in the Senate, is that they seem to have no spine and commit a lot of unforced errors—for no obviously discernible reason. And this is what makes people suspect that they have no conservative principles (or even no principles) at all.
Even self-interest, the best bet, doesn’t quite explain it. It’s hard to figure out how they would benefit from this particular move, for example. Will they earn concessions from the Democratic colleagues? Money? Influence? I don’t think so. Perhaps those more creatively cynical than I could explain it.
[NOTE: For those who wonder how I square this sort of post with yesterday's call for rapprochement---or at least an end to the acrimony of the hostilities---between the so-called "establishment Republicans" and the Tea Party regarding vetting candidates, I reiterate that I'm very frustrated with both sides of that equation, but I still don't think a war will help the situation.]