Friday, February 1, 2013

Chuck Hagel’s grilling: GOP’s anger or beauty of the system?

Search for a few recent videos of U.S. Senator John McCain on youtube and you’d think ‘what’s wrong with this guy’. He blocked President Obama’s nomination of Susan Rice for the job of U.S Secretary of State, he demonised Hillary Clinton for her job on the Benghazi incident and he treated Senator Chuck Hagel like an angry boss does before firing his employee.

But it’s not just McCain. During Chuck Hagel's senate hearing on Thursday, every Republican senator looked like they came with one goal: teach an independent a lesson. New York Times summarized the grilling in an editorial as the Republicans were more interested in ‘bullying him and playing a game of gotcha than in eliciting thoughtful policy responses’.

You can make a guess from the questions they asked that the hearing was somewhat partisan. McCain forced Hagel to say either yes or no on a question whether Hagel was right on his opposition to the military surge in Iraq.

And then there was this question from Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe: “Why do you think that the Iranian Foreign Ministry so strongly supports your nomination for secretary of defense?” Did he think Hagel would answer that question.

It seemed like the Republicans were only interested in Hagel’s past controversial statements and not in the broader policy elaboration of a potential Defence Secretary. Because if they were, they would have spent more time on issues like dealing with Al-Qaeda, the defence budget, women and gays in the military and so on.

So, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Hagel’s confirmation (if he is confirmed for the job) wouldn’t be bipartisan.

But on the other side, I kinda like the whole process (no the ferocious grilling) but a system where everyone has to face the music. Bipartisanship is good, but it cannot mean people who don’t qualify for the job should be given the job.

It should be like a job interview where the candidate has to come prepared, willing and should give the public a reason to believe that he/she will have good results at the end of the term.

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