Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, right, asks a question of former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, center, President Barack Obama’s choice for defense secretary, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, January 31, 2013, during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination. Senator James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, the ranking member of the committee, listens at left. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Deprived of the third member of the Senate’s neoconservative Holy Trinity, Joe Lieberman, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are doing their best to act like wrecking balls aimed at President Obama’s incoming national security team. Their obsessive, monomaniacal focus on the attack on the US office in Benghazi, Libya, last September is the ostensible reason, but in fact it has a lot more to do with knocking down people like Chuck Hagel and John Brennan who might go along with a tilt against Israel, a sharp cut in the Defense Department budget and a rapid drawdown in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Senator Jim Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Service Committee, says he will filibuster to block Hagel. “I don’t trust this president to make the right appointment, I don’t think that Hagel is the right appointment,” said Inhofe, adding that he wants to force the Senate to find sixty votes confirming Hagel—which means that all fifty-five Democrats would have to find at least five Republicans to join them, a not-impossible task.
Inhofe, who just took over the Committee, was one of only three Republicans to vote against John Kerry as well, and Defense News notes that it marks a big ideological shift on the panel:
US Senator James Inhofe’s politically charged opening act as the Senate Armed Services Committee’s top Republican shows the panel’s self-touted bipartisanship is eroding as GOP members embrace an ideological revival.
Perhaps the low point of the Hagel confirmation hearing was when Inhofe nonsensically asked Hagel: “Why do you think that the Iranian Foreign Ministry so strongly supports your nomination to be the secretary of defense?”
McCain, who says he opposes a filibuster, adds that he’ll vote against Hagel.
Graham, in particular, is threatening to block confirmation of Hagel and Brennan, an almost unprecedented maneuver involving a cabinet nominee. Speaking yesterday on CBS’s Face the Nation, Graham went on and on about Susan Rice’s talking points, what Obama did on the night of the attack, and called the Benghazi events, in which just four people died, “a national security failure of monumental proportions.” And this: