So what did the GOP opposition to Hagel produce? If nothing else, it’s likely to prevent the administration from pointing to Hagel as evidence that President Obama’s Cabinet is bipartisan. It’s possible that was one reason Obama chose Hagel in the first place, but the fierce GOP opposition to his nomination made clear that his former colleagues consider him a turncoat due to his criticism of the Bush-era troop surge in Iraq, and other issues. Democrat John Kerry’s path to confirmation as secretary of State was all flowers and lollipops by comparison.
And Hagel emerges politically weaker. His fumbling answers during his Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing surely caught the notice of all the high-ranking generals and admirals he’ll be dealing with. To them, he’ll have to prove he’s got the stuff to handle a very tough job at a time when sequester cuts are about to whack their budgets. Plus, he’ll have to come back and appear before the very same Armed Services panel for further budget and authorization hearings.
“Hagel has been stripped of the patina of competence and will go into his job with zero credibility even on his own side,” wrote Washington Post "Right Turn" blogger Jennifer Rubin, who’s helped lead the rhetorical charge against Hagel’s nomination.