Were McCain’s votes on Hagel coherent?

Andy McCarthy asks two good questions about the Republican “folderoo” on Chuck Hagel:

I have a question for Senator John McCain, leader of the pack that says Hagel is “not qualified” to be defense secretary but that nonetheless voted in a way that assured his confirmation. McCain opposes the sequester because, he argues, the cuts to the defense budget are “unconscionable.” So . . . how can it be unconscionable for a country that is well over $16 trillion in debt to cut a defense budget that exceeds half-a-trillion dollars by around 8 percent (meaning baseline defense spending will still be higher than it was in 2007), while it is conscionable to vote to place in charge of the entire defense department a man who is not qualified for the job?

I am open to being convinced that aspects of the military cuts are irresponsible. But why would I pay any attention to doomsday predictions from people who have just knowingly made Hagel the guy responsible for setting priorities?

Unlike Andy, I don’t view McCain’s vote for cloture as indefensible from an intellectual standpoint. One can believe that a nominee is unqualified for a position but also believe that the decision to confirm or not should be made by the Senate as a whole, based on its collective sense of the nominee’s qualification. Under this reasoning, a Senator would vote for cloture and against confirmation — as McCain did.

But, looking at things from a pragmatic standpoint, Andy makes another argument:

If the roles were reversed, Democrats would never have let the nominee get confirmed. Thanks to the GOP, we have a Washington where stellar candidates such as John Bolton and Miguel Estrada do not get confirmed, but a pro-Iranian anti-Israeli dolt like Chuck Hagel gets through.

To this, I have no rebuttal.

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