At least, I think that’s accurate. This WashPost story doesn’t actually mention Lindsey Graham, which surprised me:
Senate Republicans blocked a vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense on Thursday, launching a filibuster whild demanding more information and more time to study their former colleague’s speeches and finances after he left the Senate in late 2008.
Falling one vote shy of the 60 needed to move forward on the nomination, the Hagel filibuster brought stark condemnations from President Obama and Senate Democrats for its precedent-setting nature — the first time a defense secretary nominee had been filibustered. The setback came during what many believe is a critical period for the Pentagon as it winds down troops from Afghanistan and implements costly budget cuts.
Republicans predicted they would relent to a simple majority vote, guaranteeing confirmation, later this month — but only if they see more information about Hagel’s post-Senate foreign policy speeches and his work in private investment groups. Senior Republicans initially scoffed at those demands, first raised by freshman Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), as unnecessary, but now party leaders hold them up as the main cause for delay…
But it made it clear that all Republicans except for three — and none of the three (no surprise here) is Graham — are standing against an early vote on the Hagel nomination. And a WashPost blog post earlier in the day — when it was believed the vote would not come on Friday, before the Democrats made the tactical mistake of trying to move it up — had made clear what I was pretty sure I already knew about Graham’s central role in the delay-Hagel movement:
At the center of this drama are Graham and McCain. McCain is likely to support his “amigo” Graham if Graham feels he is still getting stiffed by the White House. Graham has every reason to hold out for the information and to further endear himself to conservatives whose support he will need in his reelection bid. Once we see how Graham and McCain are leaning, we’ll know which way the vote is going to go on Friday.
Anyway, we have a bit of an impasse here. Democrats are understandably upset, although their claims that this delay puts the nation’s security in danger are a bit overwrought. When Harry Reid said:
“This isn’t high school, getting ready for a football game or some play that’s being produced at high school,” Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said during an angry floor speech Thursday morning. “This is – we’re trying to confirm somebody to run the defense of our country, the military of our country.”
I thought, Exactly. And if one has sincere doubts about the nominee’s fitness — which I believe Graham and McCain do — it’s not responsible to rush into confirming him.
Yeah, I know, a lot of my friends here on the blog are sick of Graham and McCain and all their doings. Well, to them I say that it’s not like they are alone on this. Moderate Republicans who are less likely to preen on the national talk shows on this subject are also reluctant to be rushed on this. Such as my old Tennessee source Lamar Alexander:
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) told reporters that cutting off debate is “premature.”
“When we come back from the recess 10 days from now, senators should have had sufficient time to consider Senator Hagel’s nomination, and I will vote to have an up-or-down vote,” Alexander said. “I know of many of my colleagues who think that’s enough time. It would be better for the institution and the country if we had enough time to consider Senator Hagel and then have an up-or-down vote, so we don’t get into a habit of making it look like we’re suing the filibuster to block Cabinet nominees. That’s not the case here.”
Anyway, I think a delay is worthwhile. For the very reason that, as Sen. Reid says, this decision is crucial to the nation’s security, I don’t think we need to be doing this on a party-line vote, when by waiting a few days we might get something closer to consensus. What do y’all think?