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.]