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Sunday, December 11, 2016

In fact, Kerry has ventured even further than Hagel on certain specific questions, such as the final status of Jerusalem in a potential peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, or the fate of Jewish settlements in occupied territory.

During his senatorial travels abroad over the years, Kerry became an outspoken advocate for international action against climate change – an activist stance that could hardly have endeared him to Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and the other mossback climate deniers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who so eagerly rubber-stamped his nomination. Yet Hagel, a climate-change skeptic during his senatorial career, was harangued and vilified for eight hours during his nomination hearing, and then denied a vote on the Senate floor.

The contrast between the swift confirmation of Kerry and the blockading of Hagel also pointed up the phoniness of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). As a condition of permitting a vote on the Hagel nomination, Graham insisted that he must have additional information from the White House about the jihadi attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. But if that information is so essential, why didn’t Graham, McCain, and their fellow Republicans hold up the nomination of Kerry for the same reason? As everyone in Washington knows, the answer is an example of their partisan venality: They hoped that Kerry’s vacated seat might be filled in a special election by their former colleague from Massachusetts, Republican Scott Brown.

By the time that the Senate adjourned, it was clear that Hagel was short of only a single vote to achieve cloture – and that the Senate Democrats, determined to win his confirmation, will eventually achieve their goal. They must, not only because Hagel is a qualified nominee selected by the Commander in Chief, but because the Senate cannot accord veto power over the president’s national security nominations to Republican extremists.

Photo credit: AP/Nati Harnik, File

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