Because most people agree that a president should get the cabinet he wants, it is unlikely former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel would have lost a Senate vote to become President Obama’s next Defense Secretary, even after a historically disastrous performance at his confirmation hearing. Hagel’s stubborn and, let’s face it, suspicious refusal to turn over documents disclosing foreign donors is, however, a horse of a different color.
As my colleague Ben Shapiro pointed out yesterday, Hagel’s refusal to be transparent, combined with reports of his receiving donations from controversial groups, is a problem above and beyond an inept day of testimony. What GOP Senators requested from Hagel is not unprecedented. Former-President Bill Clinton and then-Senator Hillary Clinton turned over a full list of foreign donors prior to her confirmation as Secretary of State.
All the back and forth regarding Hagel’s controversial statements on Israel, and the like, probably came off as usual-usual political he said/she said to the everyday American. No amount of media or White House spin, though, can muddy the waters of Hagel refusing to disclose donations and connections from outside the United States.
Right now, Hagel is twisting slowly in the wind, as Democrats and the White House try to put their man back together again. As the days tick by without a confirmation vote, Hagel’s position becomes more perilous. Thomas E. Ricks at “Foreign Policy” now puts the chances of a Hagel withdrawal at 50-50, and getting worse by the day.
Ricks’ assessment doesn’t even mention Hagel’s failure to disclose his foreign donors. The problem, as he sees it, is that no one, Republican or Democrat, likes the guy or sees him as fit for the job.
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