Hagel's Nomination to be Secretary of Defense

Dorothy Rabinowitz rhapsodizes the aggressive and contemptuous treatment Chuck Hagel got from McCain and those who still believe in the policies that gave us two unwinnable wars and torture. But then she adds:

It has been a long time since Republicans showed a fighting temper of this kind, unyielding in its contempt for what the choice of a Hagel represents about core values like the national defense, our stance regarding the most dangerous of our enemies in the world.

If the Hagel hearings had done nothing else—they had in fact done everything else in their revelations, if not the final outcome—they had, in this time of postelection dreariness, shown Republicans come roaring to life. They had been moved to do so by Mr. Obama’s nomination of Mr. Hagel—a gift to the Republicans, though perhaps not to the national defense.

Does that not strike you as a little at odds? Apparently, the great thing about the McCain-Butters grilling was that it was clearly beyond partisan malice but worthwhile mainly to revive partisan zeal in favor of neoconservatism.

The core truth is that the entire hearings were about whether we really, seriously want to to start a new war in the Middle East to postpone Iran’s inevitable nuclear capacity. Or, rather, about whether it would be helpful to have a defense secretary who might add a strong voice of skepticism toward the perils of a new land war in the Middle East. I favor having that voice at the table. The neocons don’t. And at some point, they may have to come to terms with the fact that they lost the election.

(Photo: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., questions former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Hagel’s nomination to be Secretary of Defense. By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call/via Getty.)