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Bret Stephens: Filibuster Hagel

9:14 AM, Feb 19, 2013 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Bret Stephens writes in the Wall Street Journal

Over the weekend Sen. John McCain all but conceded that Republicans didn't have the appetite for a filibuster and that Mr. Hagel would be confirmed. That may be right as a (self-fulfilling) prediction. But there's an issue of character that needs to be addressed. To wit, does a senator who denounces Israeli influence-peddling but abets Iranian influence-peddling have the judgment to serve as U.S. secretary of defense?

There is also a question of the character of the Senate. Democrats are complaining that the effort to filibuster Mr. Hagel's nomination is unprecedented and obstructionist. That's rich coming from Democrats who effectively filibustered John Bolton's nomination to be U.N. ambassador in 2005 by refusing to vote for cloture. Among those voting against cloture were then Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois, Hillary Clinton of New York, and Harry Reid of Nevada.

Now some Republicans are saying that a president deserves an up-or-down vote on his cabinet picks. That sounds like a stand on principle, but it's political capitulation. To quote someone who knows something about this:

"The vote we are about to take . . . is about whether the Senate will allow the President to dictate to a co-equal branch of government how . . . to fulfill our constitutional responsibility under the advice and consent clause. It is that basic. I believe it is totally unacceptable for the President of the United States, Democrat or Republican—and both have tried—to dictate to the Senate how he, the president, thinks we should proceed."

That was Joe Biden, voting against cloture for Mr. Bolton. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Republicans have a duty to stop a manifestly unqualified nominee.

Read the whole thing here

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