On Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) released a statement on the nomination of Chuck Hagel: “Chuck Hagel is a good man, but these are dangerous times. What kind of signal are we sending to the Iranians when our nominee for Secretary of Defense seems clueless about what our policy is? I hope the Obama Administration will reconsider his nomination.”
That is unlikely, especially after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) declared himself opposed to a filibuster. Why should the White House pull a nomination the Republicans won’t go to the mat to oppose? Empowered, indeed obligated, by a hearing that revealed Hagel to be buffoonish, the Senate Republicans would have been fully justified in blocking the nomination. Unless McCain changes his mind about a filibuster (other Senate offices that held out the potential for a filibuster were fuming yesterday, as were foreign policy hawks who had opposed Hagel), his decision will actually help facilitate Hagel’s confirmation.
Nevertheless, McCain might be moved by Hagel’s apparent refusal to provide all the data that has been requested of him. Late Tuesday Josh Rogin reported that Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) are seeking to delay Thursday’s vote on Hagel’s confirmation in the Senate Armed Services Committee because he has not submitted all the requested information, including speeches he has given and the funding for his appearances.
Rogin quoted Graham as saying, “Chuck has said some things that are out of the mainstream and I don’t think it’s unfair to say, ‘Tell us who you spoke to, particularly when you got paid. He’s said he’s given hundreds of speeches; we’ve only gotten [information about] four. We know he’s received money from different groups, but we don’t know who they are, who backs him, who funds him.”
If the information is controversial (either because Hagel made even more awful comments in speeches or he had some controversial funders), then the White House was foolhardy in putting up a nominee who had this many issues. (If Hagel did not disclose the information to the White House, then he has imperiled his nomination and been less than forthright with the White House.) If, on the other hand, the information is noncontroversial it is hard to see why Hagel should be remiss in getting customarily requested information to the committee.
I frankly don’t expect Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) to postpone the vote. The Democrats, presented with a nominee so patently in over his head, could have done the honorable thing and implored the White House to pull the nomination. They did not. Let them vote then and tell the country with straight faces that Hagel is prepared and competent to perform this job. But it is now patently obvious that they and the president have no interest in, as the president so fatuously put it, giving the troops the leader they deserve.
UPDATE: Right Turn has obtained the letter sent by Hagel to five Republican senators in response to their request for additional financial information. He refuses to provide information relating to certain “private corporate and nonprofit entities,” claiming it is not his to provide. However, the letter is noteworthy for his assertion that he has a fiduciary duty to keep that information private. In other words, he is not even requesting these entities provide it to the committee; he is defending their refusal to do so. With regard to Atlantic Council, he specifically directs the committee to the group’s 501c IRS filings. But why can’t Hagel provide it? And how is the committee to know about specific funding for Hagel’s speeches? In that regard, he claims not to have any more speech transcripts and/or videos. He also does not provide the funding information for those speeches requested by the senators. The complete letter can be found here.
The senators, I suspect, will not look upon this kindly. Why is Hagel refusing to provide perfectly relevant information? Perhaps he and the White House are daring the Republicans to filibuster.