1. Republicans come out looking pretty shabby
"The impressive thing about the anti-Hagel effort is how politically tone-deaf it is," says Daniel Larison at The American Conservative
. Republicans in Washington "are desperate for a winning issue, but Senate Republicans seem to be missing the point that stalling Hagel's confirmation (which will happen eventually) isn't a winning issue for them." Quite the opposite, in fact. "In the short-term, they will take a justified beating in the press for their ridiculous tactics," but they're also "making sure that all of the moderates, independents, and realists that they have alienated over the last 10 years will keep running away from them." Laurence Vance at the libertarian LRC Blog
seems to agree: "I am no fan of Hagel," he says, but it's clear that Republicans are throwing up roadblocks just "because Hagel is not seen as being as bloodthirsty and war-crazed as they are. The GOP cannot be reformed."
2. They've set a dangerous precedent
Filibustering Hagel, simply put, "is just insane," says Kevin Drum at Mother Jones
. "If there's one thing practically everyone agrees about, it's that presidents should basically get to pick their own cabinets." You only try to derail nominees in extreme circumstances, and that's hardly the case here. Hagel is "a standard issue DC pol with no skeletons in his closet, no bizarre views, and no scandals in his background," and normally his nomination wouldn't even be controversial.
The "potentially serious short- and long-term consequences" of this filibuster "should worry both parties," says Steve Kornacki at Salon
. Once you "shatter tradition" by pulling this maneuver once, it very well "might lead to similar filibusters in the future — both for Obama's nominees and for nominees of future presidents from both parties." Yes, "future Republican Cabinet nominees for major posts are now much more likely treated in the same way," says The American Conservative's Larison
. "That won't be good for future Republican administrations or the government as a whole."
3. This could revive filibuster-neutering efforts
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who lost a fight to radically scale back the Senate filibuster
last month, reminded his Democratic colleagues that they could have avoided this setback
if they'd agreed to the stronger measures he proposed. "It is deeply disappointing that even when President Obama nominates a former conservative colleague of the GOP caucus, the minority is abusing the rules and the spirit of 'advise and consent,'" he said
. "If our step we took last month is to be successful, extraordinary stunts like today's filibuster can't happen."
Well, "if this isn't enough to get Reid to revive the threat of filibuster reform, nothing will be enough," says Greg Sargent at The Washington Post
. Agreed, says Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly
. Reid is an institutionalist who is loath to take away senators' privileges, but "he needs to pick up the threat for real, shake it at Senate Republicans, and mean it."