Twilight of the Neocons: Chuck Hagel Edition

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 8 2013 3:36 PM

Twilight of the Neocons: Chuck Hagel Edition

My newest article looks at the surprisingly small, but well-connected, universe of Chuck Hagel opponents, who had a really good run at the nominee until he became... well, an actual nominee.

The closer you get, the smaller it looks. Allied against Hagel are a relatively small group of D.C. conservatives and hawks, people who’ve been successful in some intra-D.C. fights but got wiped out in the 2012 election. Their strongest weapons against Hagel might have already been deployed, in an effort to spike the nomination while it was still in the embryonic, cocktail-party-chatter stage. But they’re in the thick of it now, framing the Hagel confirmation vote as a test of whether one is for or against Israel, open-minded or anti-Semitic, anti-Iran or genocidal.


Contained within this article, and this moment, are a few ridiculous paradoxes.

- It's easier to dogpile a nominee for a low-level job than for a truly important job. The lower stakes benefit the critics, who stand a greater chance of the enemy saying "ah, screw it, I don't need this distraction.

- It's easier to "rule out" a nominee than to beat one in committee. Obviously, an administration snuffs out a nominee if, during the trial balloon phase, it appears that he/she lacks the votes. The administration moves ahead if the votes look gettable. The nominee transforms from a cipher to a person doing battle with blowhards on C-Span -- which often goes well for the witness. (Ask Oliver North, ask George Galloway.)

The anti-Hagelites are aware that they're slogging uphill. For all the hype, only five Republican senators have sworn to vote against the nominee. That's about as many as swore to oppose Susan Rice, and that's just it -- you don't know how real the opposition is until you test it.


Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company


The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.


How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Sept. 18 2014 10:42 AM Scalia’s Liberal Streak The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 18 2014 11:25 AM Gays on TV: From National Freakout to Modern Family Fun
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 12:03 PM The NFL Opines on “the Role of the Female”
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 11:48 AM Watch the Hilarious First Sketch From Season 4 of Key & Peele
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 10:07 AM “The Day It All Ended” A short story from Hieroglyph, a new science fiction anthology.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.