Obstructing Hagel is ‘damaging to our national security’

Updated
Former Senator Chuck Hagel testifies during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to be Defense Secretary, on January 31, 2013.
Former Senator Chuck Hagel testifies during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to be Defense Secretary, on January 31, 2013.
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Claire McCaskill is not taking the GOP’s obstruction of Chuck Hagel calmly.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked the former Nebraska senator’s nomination for secretary of defense—filibustering his confirmation on the basis of supposedly wanting to have more time to review the Nebraskan’s speeches and financial records.

The Democratic Missouri senator called the filibuster “inexcusable” and even dangerous on Thursday night’s Hardball. Republicans blocking the nomination are “not going to change the president’s policy by playing these games…. All they’re doing is sending a signal to the rest of the world is that we’re not united in a bipartisan way around the issue of national security. That is damaging to our national security, and shame on them for doing that,” said McCaskill.

The confirmation will be delayed at least a week. GOPers blocked the Democrats from getting the 60 votes needed to end debate (and then vote on the final nomination), 58-40.

McCaskill added that it was horrendous that Republican Senators like Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Ted Cruz of Texas claimed that Hagel had been “endorsed” by Iran. McCaskill and host Chris Matthews agreed that it rang of McCarthyism.

“What if a group that you find abhorrent, that doesn’t match your values, endorses you. Does that mean you’re cozy with them? Iran is being manipulative here. I think they’re trying to cause the president problems. These are people who are playing a political propaganda game,” said McCaskill.

So what’s behind the obstruction? NBC News political reporter Kelly O’Donnell told Matthews that there are two lines of thought. “For some of them, it is about Chuck Hagel, his qualifications, his past statements, wanting to know more, wanting the members of the senate who were not a part of the committee, who did not get to ask questions, to review the material.”

There’s another group that is using the filibuster as a tool to get more information about the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi. “They make it very clear it has nothing to do with Chuck Hagel. It’s not personal, they say,” said O’Donnell, giving the examples of recent testimonies from both current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey. They believe “that wouldn’t have happened if they had not put up this fight,” she said.

Matthews asked The Daily Beast’s Peter Beinart the reasoning for the delaying tactic, especially from GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has vowed to block the nomination.

Graham, he said, is “petrified that he’s too moderate to win the Republican nomination for Senate in 2014 in South Carolina and so he’s desperately moving to the right. For a lot of other Republicans they just feel like if they can drag it out longer and longer, that maybe some shoe will drop, there will be some scandal…that will destroy this nomination.”

Obstructing Hagel is 'damaging to our national security'

Updated