Ashton and I at (Respectful) Odds
I respectfully but strongly disagree with Ashton’s post against the idea of a Republican filibuster of the Hagel nomination, or a hold on the same.
To be more specific, I do agree, wholeheartedly, with this:
In the confirmation hearings, during floor debate, and in an actual speaking filibuster if it comes to that, Senate Republicans will have many instances to make precisely the case Quin alludes to, and any other substantive policy criticisms about Hagel they think will defeat his confirmation. But let’s have the argument in public, through the normal process of a presidential nomination.
U.S. Senators like to think they work within “the world’s greatest deliberative body.” Let them prove it with a robust examination of Chuck Hagel’s fitness to be the next Secretary of Defense.
I do believe that such scrutiny is a good thing. I do believe they should use it to put the pressure on Democrats to oppose the nomination. But I disagree with Ashton’s implication that, in the end, a straight up or down vote should be Hagel’s right.
In this extreme case, a case of a man so fundamentally at odds with so many basic precepts of decent foreign policy (he does not worry about Iran getting nukes, he would not label Hezbollah a terrorist organization, he would not advocate getting tough with North Korea, he repeatedly made references to the “Jewish lobby” and similar remarks, he said “let the Jews pay for” the single most popular USO post for American servicement, to the detriment of our own troops, and he was the only one of 100 senators to refuse to condemn Russian anti-Semitism, among numerous other foreign policy sins), there is more at stake than the public record. Such a man has no business, none whatsoever, coming anywhere within Jew-baiting distance of the Pentagon’s top office. He would be a menace as Secretary of Defense.
If not enough Democrats will join Republicans in killing this dastardly nomination, then Republicans ought to filibuster the nomination to death. And if they won’t do that, then a single Republican should use every other power at his disposal to block it.
I oppose the use of a filibuster to permanently kill a judicial nomination, for numerous reasons I have explained elsewhere. I think it violates the spirit and perhaps letter (the latter is arguable) of the Constitution to hold a third branch of government hostage to a super-majority vote. But that is decidedly not the case with an executive-branch appointee. Congress is empowered to keep direct watch over executive overreach. It should do so.
Democrats in the Senate filibustered to death the nomination of John Bolton to be Ambassador to the United Nations. Republicans and reasonable Democrats ought to do the same to Hagel, if they cannot defeat him in an up-or-down vote.
This is a hill to die on.