If the chances of Chuck Hagel withdrawing his nomination as Secretary of Defense are truly “50-50,” as Thomas E. Ricks of Foreign Policy suggests, then time is running out for Democrats to push a vote through the Senate.
With each passing day, doubts grow, new information emerges, and pressure builds on Democrats to back off a nominee whose competence and beliefs are in grave doubt. Republicans are using every hour to build a united front against the nomination, and still insist that the Senate Armed Services Committee cannot vote until the former GOP Senator has satisfied requests for information about his foreign funders and past speeches.
Committee chair Carl Levin (D-MI), who postponed a vote that was to have taken place on Thursday, indicated that his patience is wearing thin. Yet his argument that Hagel is being held to a higher standard than previous nominees has fallen flat. If Hagel is not prepared to disclose possible sources of undue influence, or to reveal additional information about positions he may have taken, then he simply cannot serve as Secretary of Defense.
Already, Hagel has undermined confidence in his ability to perform the job. The nation must be able to trust that the Pentagon is in the hands of capable and incorruptible leadership. The longer the confirmation process goes on, the more that trust is eroded. Unless a vote comes early next week, Hagel’s nomination may be over.