When Senate Republicans blocked an up-or-down confirmation vote on Chuck Hagel's Defense Secretary nomination -- an unprecedented move -- GOP officials said it wasn't about killing the nomination so much as it was giving the process more time. Republicans wanted another week -- specifically, last week -- to come up with something to derail him.
Now that the delay is just about over, I'm not altogether sure what the point was. The only interesting Hagel-related news of the last week is that Republican media outlets went berserk over an organization that doesn't exist. Well, that and the fact that Sen. Lindsey Graham apparently wants to make Hagel his pen pal.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has written a letter to Chuck Hagel to ask that he open his Senate archive at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Graham, who also asks Hagel to authorize the release of past speeches organized by the Washington Speakers Bureau, believes interested parties should have access to the former Nebraska senator's record.
For the record, Graham sent Hagel three different letters over the course of a week -- some more ridiculous than others. In this case, the South Carolinian doesn't want something specific from the University of Nebraska-Omaha archive, but he thinks it'd be nice if researchers could go look for stuff, just in case.
While Graham waits for a response to his latest letter, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), making his fifth Sunday show appearance in eight weeks, said yesterday that Hagel "should" get an "up-or-down vote," and will probably be confirmed this week. McCain added that Democrats have filibustered cabinet nominees before -- he pointed to John Bolton and John Tower -- but as is often the case, McCain is confused. Tower wasn't filibustered; his nomination was defeated on an up-or-down vote when a bipartisan majority of the Senate rejected him. Bolton was filibustered, but wasn't up for a cabinet-level post.
And finally, it also appears the "No to Chuck" initiative appears to be failing miserably.
What's the "No to Chuck" initiative? I'm glad you asked. Rick Santorum's super PAC, Patriot Voices, launched the effort to defeat Hagel, but it doesn't appear to be going well. The New York Times had this report on Friday.
Mr. Santorum himself took to passing the hat, writing in an e-mail to supporters this week that the group needed to raise an additional $10,000 or it would have to abandon its efforts to oppose Mr. Hagel."My staff tells me that if we don't get on pace to raise $10,000 by this Friday, we'll have to shut down our 'No to Chuck' effort early," Mr. Santorum wrote in the e-mail. "So please, don't delay. Make the most generous emergency contribution you can right away. We appreciate your dedication and support. Thank you and God Bless."
Taken together, it appears Republicans demanded an extra week for no apparent reason, other than trying to raise money and write pointless letters.
Expect a final vote on Hagel as early as tomorrow.