PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff is angry and looking to hold someone accountable for the delay in the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as Obama’s next Secretary of Defense.
Last week Woodruff demanded to know if anyone was going to “pay the price” for the delay in Hagel’s nomination. Woodruff’s comments came during the February 15 broadcast of a segment of Shields and Brooks with Republican Michael Gershon sitting in for New York Times columnist David Brooks.
Woodruff began the Hagel segment saying that the block of the former Nebraska Senator’s nomination was “unprecedented.” This, of course, is not true at all. There isn’t anything “unprecedented” about holding up a president’s nominations. It has happened repeatedly, especially in the last 40 years.
To name just a few, John Bolton’s nomination as UN Ambassador was torpedoed by Democrats during George W. Bush’s presidency. Reagan’s nomination of Judge Bork to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court was savaged by a string of Democrat-fostered lies and Bork was ultimately blocked. Judge Clarence Thomas’ nomination was also attacked and held up as Democrats tried to destroy him.
As to the position of Secretary of Defense, Senator John Tower was voted down by Democrats for his 1989 nomination as Secretary of Defense. Tower was both blocked and defeated.
It should be noted that Hagel’s confirmation is not necessarily blocked, only delayed thus far. His confirmation is still pending and there is no clear indication if he can be blocked at this point.
Michael Gerson did correct Woodruff, reminding her that it really isn’t that “unprecedented” for a president’s nominations to be blocked. Still, he incorrectly says it may be unprecedented for secretary of defense, ignoring the weeks of efforts to block Senator’s Tower confirmation before his nomination was eventually defeated in 1989.
As to who is going to “pay the price” for holding up Hagel’s nomination, liberal Mark Shields claimed that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Texas Senator Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) are already paying a price for their recalcitrance.
Shields said the accusations that Hagel benefited by money from “North Korea, or Iran, or Saudi Arabia” have “absolutely no basis in fact” and is a “terrible, terrible chapter” in the history of the Senate.
“Terrible for whom,” Woodruff asked.
“For the country, and–but for the Republican Party. They are going through a terrible exercise,” the liberal commentator replied.
But are such charges false? Do these charges have “absolutely no basis in fact”? A new report on one of those speeches seems to show that Hagel did benefit as charged. In 2007, Hagel was reportedly paid by supporters of the Iranian Mullah-led dictatorship and pro-terror groups to give a speech at Rutgers University.
As the three wrapped up the discussion of the Hagel nomination, Michael Gerson did have it right on a key problem with a Hagel stint at Defense:
But I would say there is a serious problem here, that the next secretary of defense is going to have to sell defense cuts to the Republicans. And there is not much trust that Chuck Hagel has with Republicans, having made a second career attacking his party after he left government.
I think that that–this is a strange choice in order to do that particular purpose.