“Sliming” Hagel

In a most interesting follow-up to Chuck Hagel’s recent narrow endorsement by the Senate which launched this Republican into the Secretary of Defense seat, HuffPost’s Jon Soltz wrote a resounding endorsement of the man and made some intriguing points as well. To begin with, he thinks the appointment bodes well for veterans and for the Department of Defense generally since Hagel is the right man for the job and his position has been strengthened by the ordeal he has been put through. Further, he thinks it will be fun to watch those Senators who attempted to smear Hagel’s reputation and bring him to his knees kiss up to Hagel in an attempt to curry favor with a man who is now in a position to improve their political fortunes by sending defense contracts their way — or not. What goes around comes around.

           Chuck Hagel

Chuck Hagel

But what is disturbing in Mr. Soltz’s piece is the following tidbit about the amount of extortion the ultra-conservatives who attempted to block Hagel’s appointment are bringing to bear against those they regard as fence-sitting colleagues in their own party:

Politically, the faux fight over Hagel’s nomination has dramatically shown a Republican Party in complete disarray, in the midst of their own civil war. On one hand, there are some Republican senators who, today, put the nation above politics, and refused to engage in sliming a great American veteran. On the other hand, there is an increasingly shrill fringe right who, in conjunction with the same neoconservatives who led us into Iraq, continue to show that they will put anything — even American security — below their own self-aggrandizement and continued campaign to oppose anything the Obama administration says or does.

That fringe wing continues to threaten senators with primary challenges, which has specifically scared formerly moderate senators like Lindsey Graham into joining their ranks. It wasn’t just obvious. It was completely transparent. In an NPR piece, South Carolina Republican State Senator Tom Davis didn’t even try to hide it:

Davis says “[Graham’s actions against Hagel] masks votes Graham has taken that conflict with small-government ideals. Graham voted for the bank bailout, once worked on climate change legislation and voted for the recent fiscal cliff deal that allowed taxes to rise on the wealthiest Americans.
“All of those things have caused individuals to wonder whether or not [Graham] is representative of the type of conservative or the type of Republican that we need in Washington, D.C., right now.”

We have all known for some time that this group of nutters marches to its own drummer — a drummer, by the way, with no sense of rhythm whatever — and we can only hope that they will soon march right out of the political picture as just another bad dream that we will all wake up from with a start. I say again: we can hope this will happen. But they have the Big Bucks behind them and they are nothing if not fanatical about what they regard as their “cause” — which is euphemistically called “small government.” Their dream is to live in a country where they can increase their immense wealth with minimal government interference, even though they want a gigantic military behind them for protection and are always among the first to cry for help when their business interests are threatened.

Davis’ comment that Graham is not “the type of Republican we need in Washington, D.C. right now” couldn’t be more wrong. The kind of Republican we all need in Washington right now is precisely ones who have no allegiance whatever with the neo-cons and their wealthy backers. This country was founded on the sovereignty of the people, not the few wealthy nut-cases who want everything to go their way and will resort to extortion to make sure it happens.