Some American chicken hawks did, in fact, serve in war. John McCain is one of them and, like many, is a vain fool. His questioning of Chuck Hagel during the confirmation hearings probably made a lot of people angry. Tim O'Brien may well be counted as one of them.
O'Brien tells the story of brutal treatment of an elderly, blind Vietnamese civilian by some soldiers and then asks why they did such a thing. It struck me that we know why if we think about it. Figuring out why a soldier can behave with uncalled brutality and cruelty gives us the answer to why so many in what is supposed to be a happy, healthy nation behave that way, what gives us the need for guns and power over others, why we have so many incidents in which innocents are terrorized by one or another of us.
The Washington Post reports that Chuck Hagel, in spite of the harsh questioning from the cold warriors, is likely a shoo-in for the Pentagon job. But Hagel himself seemed depressed (who wouldn't be!).
Hagel appeared defensive, frustrated and lethargic during much of the hearing. But none of the zingers or missteps appeared serious enough to sway a significant number of senators to vote across party lines. Democrats outnumber Republicans on the committee 14 to 12, and administration officials and analysts said the vote would probably fall along party lines.
“None of the votes that probably would have been for him have shifted,” said Steve Clemons, a fellow at the New America Foundation who supports Hagel’s nomination. But he expressed surprise by the lack of charisma the seasoned politician displayed on the witness chair. “Hagel, who can be hilarious, didn’t show much of that today,” Clemons lamented. ...WaPo
Aggression isn't hilarious.
Jonathan Bernstein at WaPo thinks Chuck Hagel will be filibustered.
The first part of confirmation has always been to ensure that all 55 Democrats supported Hagel. That was essentially achieved during Hagel’s meeting with Democratic senators, if not earlier. It’s possible one or two Democrats might be tough votes, but unlikely he’ll lose any of them.
Now, you might think that 55 votes in a 100-vote chamber would be sufficient, but only if you haven’t been paying attention since January 2009. Whether or not Republicans ultimately insist on a cloture vote, they almost certainly will insist on 60 votes to confirm (that is, if Hagel has the votes, they might not allow the nomination to go straight to a final vote). So the second part has always been whether the former Republican senator can pick up five Senate Republicans. Prior to his confirmation hearing today, he had already scored one of those, Thad Cochran. That’s a good start; Cochran, a mainstream conservative, doesn’t seem to be a likely outlier. But he’ll need four more.
In the end, it's about internal Republican politics, says Bernstein.
As usual, Charles Pierce and I are on the same wavelength. McCain's desperation in trying to get Chuck Hagel to say no no the surge was brilliant was awful and above all pathetic. There is nothing to justify our most recent aggressions. So here's puffy J. McCain trying to push a huge boulder up a steep hill, begging for some sort of pat on the back for war and "surges." Says McCain, in effect, pressing for the politically convenient answer to a question about the surge(s): "Please admit that we were right." Hell, no. You weren't. And you wouldn't sound so desperate if you didn't know that already.
... You were wrong in 2003 and you were wrong in 2006 and the Iraq war was a murderous cock-up from start to finish and Hagel, at least, figured that out in midstream.
The whole hearing was nothing more than a show, and we all know that the easiest shows to sell are revivals. The Republican opposition decided to re-litigate the failures of the Bush administration in the context of the world view of Dean Acheson. It was a weird performance. It was like watching Rent performed on the set of Show Boat. And very little of it had anything to do with Hagel's qualifications to be Secretary Of Defense. Most of the questioning would seem to have been more suited to the hearings earlier this week, when John Kerry sailed through the confirmation process to become Secretary Of State. Hagel's not running to be a diplomat and, frankly, given our experience with that steaming hunk of neocon man-meat, Don Rumsfeld, I'd just as soon not have the Defense Secretary involved in the formulation of foreign policy as much as he is in making sure the grunts who have to carry it out have sufficient body armor. That, by all accounts, is what Hagel sees the job as being about. What some mullah may have mumbled about him may echo loudly among the stalagmites in Jim Inhofe's brain, but it has absolutely no relevance to the rest of us as far as Hagel's ability to run a Defense department. There is some criticism rising that Hagel was not properly prepared for his testimony. I'm not sure anybody could have been. How could anyone be properly prepared for Jim Inhofe and Ted Cruz in the same day? Those kind of mushrooms are still illegal. ...Esquire/PoliticsBlog
Dead right. Except we aren't dead. It's the kids we sent over there and the people they killed who are dead.
Defense secretaries should not determine our foreign policy. John McCain marches on, heedless and furious.