February 27th, 2013

Hagel confirmed

No surprise whatsoever that Hagel has been confirmed, but it’s still bad news.

I had predicted from the start that Hagel would be confirmed, and there was never any reason to waver from that assumption. The Republicans in Congress seem to lack both the numbers and the will to have blocked him, and I’m not sure which of the two is more important (that is, if they had the numbers, would they have the will?).

So now Obama has the foreign policy crew he wants, a perfect storm of mediocrity combined with ineptitude combined with destructiveness combined with lack of protection of America’s interests. And all of those qualities combine to make it highly likely that his underlings, including Hagel, will do his bidding, in part because they are in agreement with him on policy and in part because they have no expertise of their own with which to challenge him.

I sometimes think you can’t be too cynical about Washington, but my own ever-increasing cynicism is still having a bit of trouble keeping pace with events. It’s not Obama who surprises me the most—almost nothing he does at this point would surprise me, unless it were to be something that bodes well for this country, or the appointment of someone I respect—it is the behavior of the Republicans.

And believe me, I thought I had no illusions about them, either. Apparently I had some lingering belief in their fighting spirit that was sadly misplaced. Of course, there are isolated exceptions to this rule (such as, for example, Ted Cruz). But they are few and far between.

But I should not be surprised. Courage in the political sense is very, very rare. Politicians want to be loved, and they tend to support what Bin Laden (of all people) called the strong horse.

We are in quite a pickle, aren’t we? And by “we,” I don’t just mean the Republican Party or conservatives, I mean the nation.

[ADDENDUM: And I understand the Republicans’ reasoning here, but I still think it’s a bad, bad, bad idea.]

8 Responses to “Hagel confirmed”

  1. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

    obama chose Hagel not only for his subservience and opinions, but because he was both a Republican and former Senator.

    The Senate club is just that and perhaps for some good reasons. If we look at Senator Kerry now Sec State he has an even worse history and experience than Hagel, yet no groundswell of opposition occurred. My guess is Hagel will be outmaneuvered by the career generals in the Pentagon (If Obama doesn’t drive them all to retire early), and Kerry will do more damage.

    We need to keep them under close observation and let them get away with nothing.

  2. kaba Says:

    In his “House Divided” speech Lincoln maintained that the issue and argument about slavery couldn’t be resolved until a crisis had been, “reached and passed”. I fear we are in a similar position today. There is neither the popular support or political will to do anything other than marginally slowing our rush to ruin.

    The final solution to slavery cost 600,00 American lives and incredible sacrifice by most citizens. The current crisis will not be resolved without significant cost.

  3. Capn Rusty Says:

    Legend has it that Caligula appointed his horse to be a Roman Consul. Dictators do that kind of thing. They exercise power in an absurd and arbitrary manner, even as to inconsequential things, just to show us little people that they can get away with it. They display power to keep us in our place, make the peasants bow to Gessler’s hat on the pole in the square. But Wm Tell had two bolts for his crossbow . . .

  4. holmes Says:

    The political appointees don’t really run too much though. They carry out policy assigned by the Executive, generally, and do so by running off memos to the career people, who know what’s going on. It’s a bad thing that Hagel was confirmed, but I honestly don’t think he can muck up too much. (Knock on wood.)

  5. Don Carlos Says:

    kaba is correct, except for her take on slavery and the War Between The States.

  6. blert Says:

    The Wan thought that ‘Hagel’ was logic in the flesh.

    Off by just one letter…

    He’s got us going from ‘being to nothing’, though.

    ( As in ‘the days after.’)

  7. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    holmes said, “It’s a bad thing that Hagel was confirmed, but I honestly don’t think he can muck up too much. (Knock on wood.)”

    Oh my. Running the DOD is a supreme test of management and leadership skills. Just finding your way around the “Puzzle Palace” can require a GPS. Refereeing the battles between the services requires the wisdom of Solomon. Making long term decisions about weapons systems, readiness levels, and strategic/tactical deployment of forces while trying to work within a budget demands knowledge and judgment that few men have.

    IMO, Obama has chosen Hagel to oversee the weakening of the world’s best fighting force. I am mightily depressed by it all.

  8. southernjames Says:

    I think Hagel is just a figurehead. Which will be fine with Hagel – he is not likley to even notice. DOD will be run from the White House. Just like foreign policy was, the first four years.

    Hilary did squat and that was the whole plan. She agreed to fly around the world and attend tea parties and cocktail hours, but otherwise keep such a low profile, we all barely knew we even had a Sec of State. After pressing the red reset button with the Ruskies her first day on the job, does anybody remember anything she did as Sec State, from that point forward, aside from assuming none of the blame for Benghazi at the tail end of her term? Me neither.

    In exchange, the Chicago Machine agreed to not stand in her way from 2014 forward, during her run for the Presidency. Win win for both sides.

    Over at the DOD, the actual, in reality, Sec Def is somebody like Valerie Jarret. She or another O confidente will instruct the Joint Chiefs on exactly what they are to do, when to do it, and how. It will include things like installation of Transgender bathroom facilities and diversity sensitivity training classes for sargents, etc., when not busy actually dismantling fighting units. And the Generals, many if not most of whom who reach that stage, are paper pushing, grasping, careerist politicians instead of being actual soldiers, will go along to get along (and then seek comfort after work with their mistresses) and damn few, if any, will resign in protest.

    Hagel will have long 2.5 hour “working lunches” for show, and then go to DC cocktail parties with his good friend John McCain after they kiss and make up behind closed doors.

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