I’m fascinated with the all the nattering over the Chuck Hagel nomination for Secretary of Defense. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is wringing his hands over the Republican “obstructionism” and their unprecedented filibuster against his nomination. President Obama has committed to standing firmly by his choice, claiming he is not going to give in to the Republicans.
Even cranky, increasingly unpredictable Arizona Senator John McCain has danced the two-step over the nomination of his one-time close friend, Hagel. First he admonished fellow Republican senator Ted Cruz from Texas for personally attacking Hagel with unsubstantiated rumors and innuendo. Then he made a statement that he would not support his party’s planned filibuster. Yesterday, he once again danced away from reality, deciding to support the Republican blockade because in the past, “Hagel had been a loud and continuing critic of President G.W. Bush, and his war in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
In yet another two-step dance by McCain, he admitted on Sunday that in spite of the Republican filibuster, Hagel will still have the votes for the position.
“I’m confident that Sen. Hagel will probably have the votes necessary to be confirmed as secretary of defense,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Are We Surprised?
Republicans have been known over the last four years as the “Party of No.” They have voraciously attacked everything proposed by Obama, from his health care plan which was identical to the one Senator Lindsay Graham (Name sound familiar?) presented to President Bush in about 2007, to increasing taxes back to the same level as the 1990′s, a time of unprecedented prosperity. They have defended the big banks behind the economic collapse, while attacking every effort to afford new protections to consumers and borrowers.
After all of this, are we surprised that they continue to oppose everything Obama? Are we really to believe that the re-election of Obama, along with picking up a few seats in the House and Senate, was going to bring forth a new era of cooperation between the parties, a new spirit of cumbia?
We can claim being surprised by current events only if we’ve lived in an isolation tank during the Obama years.
I lay the blame for this turmoil squarely at the feet of Harry Reid and President Obama. Had they been doing their jobs, cabinet level nominations would not be held hostage by yet another in a four-year string of Republican filibusters.
Where did Majority Leader Reid ever come up with the spineless decision to not overturn the 60 vote rule to end a filibuster? Was he so naieve as to believe that Republicans would not continue on their path of blocking every issue, every vote to come before the Senate, exactly the same process they’d used for the previous 4 years?
Reid had the opportunity to end that stalemate process once and for all; he was “First and Goal…” and he punted.
As for Obama, his noted disdain for dealing with members of Congress continues to prove
his failures as a leader. While the decision was pondered by Reid, and knowing the difficulties of his first term, Obama should have been on the phone every day to Reid, should have invested in real face time with him, lobbying to insure Reid made the right decision, the decision to end the closet-filibuster.
Instead, Obama focused on a weak State of the Union speech, handed off the all important gun legislation to Vice-President Biden, and remained aloof to a decision that could well re-define his second term as President to one of actual achievement.
Leadership means constantly focusing on the goal, using whatever means to get there. Leadership requires taking steps to outmaneuver the opposition, to appease some, to pull others to your side of the fence. Leadership means taking whatever steps are necessary to make that goal a reality.
Obama is a great speaker, and has outlined many noble and worth-while goals. But there is more to attaining success than just being a great orator. Leadership is not setting goals and walking away, expecting others to carry your water. What Obama lacks is the get- involved part of the process, the getting down in the dirt and mud and doing the work that needs doing.
President Obama, it’s time to stop flying around the country giving flowery speeches, and return to Washington and actually do the job you were hired to do.
Where Are We Today?
1) The Chuck Hagel nomination for Secretary of Defense is in political limbo. The Senate is in recess for two weeks, there will be no new vote, and with each passing day, more ammunition is stockpiled against his nomination.
2) For similar reasons, the nomination of Brennan is being held up for Director of the CIA.
3) The Consumer Watchdog Committee law, a result of the Dodd-Frank legislations, is at risk of never being implemented, because of the congressional standoff with Obama, over whether there will be a single director, or an oversight committee reporting to Congress.
I lay this gridlock squarely at the feet of “Weak-Kneed” Reid and “No Drama” Obama.
But that’s just me…
- Yes, Chuck Hagel is being filibustered. Yes, that’s unprecedented. (washingtonpost.com)