Matt Duss reviews yesterday’s spectacle and makes a good observation:
Any hopes that Republicans might be embracing a new reasonableness in the wake of their Election Day drubbing will have to be put off. They evinced a level of disdain for the nominee that I don’t recall ever seeing in a similar hearing [bold mine-DL].
It’s that seething disdain for Hagel that is so remarkable. Republican hard-liners have contributed to their party’s defeats in three of the last four elections, and they inflicted long-term damage on their party’s reputation on foreign policy by embracing the biggest foreign policy blunder in a generation, and now they are furious with Hagel because he’s one of the few national Republicans to recognize reality. McCain’s obsession with insisting on the rightness of the “surge” that failed on the Bush administration’s own terms is one example of this refusal to cope with reality.
If it were just McCain doing this, we could dismiss it as part of a long pattern of his embittered reactions to past political defeats. The amazing thing is that virtually every Republican member of the committee yesterday pretended to be just as incensed and outraged by Hagel as McCain was. Four of the Republican members are new Senators elected in 2010 or last year, and in some respects the new members were worse than McCain in trying to prove their hard-line credentials. Senate Republicans had an opportunity yesterday to demonstrate that they had learned something from the failures of the Bush era and the folly of hard-line policies, and they threw it away without giving it a moment’s thought.