A broken Senate does the Hagel haggle

February 19, 2013 

Former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel was respected by his fellow Republicans and his Democratic colleagues in the upper chamber, and he was an experienced hand in national defense and foreign policy. Seeking to have a bipartisan Cabinet in his second term, as he had in his first with Robert Gates at Defense, President Obama put Hagel up to be Leon Panetta’s successor.

But now, in what smacks of gamesmanship, Senate Republicans have been making confirmation difficult for Hagel. Nothing has come forward that in any way would disqualify the Purple Heart recipient from serving. But then there’s Benghazi, the site of the attack on American diplomats on Sept. 11, 2012, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Republicans in the Senate have implied that outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mishandled the security at an American compound, that she was part of some coverup. They did not succeed in making that charge stick when they questioned Clinton, who eloquently defended herself.

Yet still the suspicions are raised by grandstanding Republicans who clearly want to find some way, some how, to embarrass President Obama. So they’ve had sport with the nomination of one of their own to be in the president’s Cabinet.

The stubborn resistance of some senators with a vendetta against the president is embarrassing, or should be. Sen. Hagel is qualified, and though he’s expected to be confirmed soon, Senate Republicans have embarrassed themselves.

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