Fmr. Senator Chuck Hagel faced a tough confirmation hearing yesterday. Hagel’s Republican colleagues were particularly vicious claiming Hagel was anti-Israel, weak on Iran, and supports unilateral nuclear disarmament. The attacks though continually repeated had little to no evidence supporting them. One of the highlights was John McCain losing his cool over statements Hagel made on the surge in Iraq – an issue totally irrelevant to the responsibilities of a Secretary of Defense in 2013.
Despite the seven hour plus beating Hagel endured few in Washington doubt his confirmation will go through.
But, amid all of that sturm und drang regarding Hagel’s poor performance, it’s also important to remember that if history is any guide, the former Nebraska Senator is still very likely to be confirmed.
The reason is simple: Democrats appear to still be on board with Hagel. And as long as Democrats don’t break ranks that means that Hagel will get through the Senate Armed Services Committee (where Democrats hold a 14-12 edge) and a full Senate vote (where Democrats or Democratic-aligned independents control 55 seats).
Short of Democrats peeling away en masse from Hagel, which they seem unlikely to do — as much from loyalty to President Obama as any allegiance to the former Nebraska Republican Senator — the only way that he wouldn’t be confirmed is if Republicans choose to block his nomination.
Basically yesterday was a waste of time. Republicans threw out every baseless charge they could think of, Democrats remained complimentary, and the likely outcome of Hagel’s nomination stayed the same. One is forced to wonder what the point is of these spectacles.