cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
The Senate Armed Services Committee hearing for former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb) who has been nominated to serve as Secretary of Defense was uncomfortable to watch without regard to your politics. He took quite a few shots from Sen. McCain (R-AZ); those were almost wholly driven by personal conflicts these two have had in the political arena. McCain was cranked up on the “surge” policy that he and Hagel had disagreed about and was using this platform to reaffirm the disagreement. That continued exchange did neither man any favors.
Going beyond this, however, there was the recurring image that this man was inept in his responses, was ill-prepared for the very obvious questions that he had to have known would be put to him. He fumbled and mumbled in response to questioning through the day. If he was coached prior to his appearance, as virtually every such nominee is, he did not absorb the intended information or was simply totally unable to summon what he’d been told.
Imagining the days he will face as the top dog in the Pentagon, one has to question just how well Hagel would stand up to the pressures. If this move was taken by the President to serve as the ‘token’ Republican nominee for a cabinet-level position in the second-term White House, it would appear from his testimony that there must have been a better choice available somewhere for some position. The ‘SecDef’ spot is one of the two most important positions in the Cabinet.
Hagel served honorably in his active duty tour and earned two Purple Hearts in the process. His courage is not in question. He served for years in the Senate and is, or was, very much aware of that environment. He had served on such committees while a Senator, and had asked similar questions meant to trip up people who had been nominated for a position in which he didn’t want that person to serve.
This should have been the classic “been there and done that” situation, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t even close. The halting speech patterns, the vacant stares around the room, the fumbling through papers trying to find an answer were very simply unflattering and did not portray this man as a qualified candidate for such a position.
He will probably survive the Senate vote unless Republicans engineer the requirement for 60 votes for his nomination to be approved. I have to believe that there will be the holding of noses as some of these votes are cast. The assembled full Senate had to have seen what was broadcast across the country. If these Senators did, they too must have doubts about this man’s capabilities. If they have doubts, partisan politics should take a back seat for that vote and they all ought to vote their consciences.