It took nearly two months after President Barack Obama nominated former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary for the Senate to confim him. But during that two month period , he had been subjected to numerous Senate hearings regarding his views on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Now, many government officials finally confirmed Hagel this week. This was even after one of these individuals, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), had been considered one of Hagel’s greatest obstacles to become the next defense secretary.
Early last week, McCain reported that he does not believe that Hagel is fit for the job. Additionally, 15 Republican senators wrote a letter to the White House suggesting that Obama should withdraw Hagel’s nomination, citing Hagel’s lack of bipartisan support as their reasoning.
Yes, Hagel is a Republican who is entering the Cabinet of a Democratic president. Other members of his party dislike him because he doesn’t always carry the same views as many other Republicans. For one, he disagreed with George W. Bush’s choices during the Iraq War, mainly the troop surge, calling it “the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.” Hagel also called George W. Bush the worst president since Herbert Hoover.
McCain, who opposed Hagel’s potential role in Obama’s cabinet, carries a grudge against Hagel’s views on Bush and Iraq. Unlike many Republicans, Hagel is not a war hawk. He does not often see war as a viable solution. Meanwhile, McCain explained on Fox News last week that Hagel is against “his own party and people.” McCain has also explained that he agreed with Bush’s actions regarding Iraq on numerous occasions.
What this appears to be, however, is the Republicans’ lack of will to approve anything the president believes would be helpful toward the country. Obama chose Hagel to be the next defense secretary because he believed that Hagel, as a Republican, would be able to draw more bipartisan support to end the war in Afghanistan. However, that hope for support has now led to a greater gap between Republicans and Democrats.
Despite the GOP’s attempts to block Hagel’s confirmation with senate hearings, he was fianlly confirmed. This was in part due to the fact that there is the Democratic majority in the Senate. Hagel’s confirmation leaves five more Cabinet members to be confirmed, including the secretary of the treasury, secretary of the interior and secretary of transportation.
Why on earth did this have to take so long?
There was once a day when a president was able to have his Cabinet members confirmed with little to no delay. Many reasons that the postponement in Hagel’s confirmation occurrded was due to the fact that as a Republican entering a Democrat’s administration, he was a “controversial” choice. However, this is not so. If Obama had chosen a Democrat, the GOP would have found another way to get his second term off to a rocky start. It is unavoidable.
However, it would be helpful if Republican leaders could get back to doing their jobs: helping to pass legislation that will better the country rather than standing in America’s way.