Roger Wicker, Mississippi’s junior senator, helped lead Washington Post opinion writer Dana Milbank to this conclusion on the nasty politics that marked Chuck Hagel’s road to confirmation as secretary of defense Tuesday: The confirmation, “ended as it began — with a smear.”
Sen. Thad Cochran, Wicker’s senior Mississippi counterpart, restored some balance by joining three other Republicans in voting for Hagel’s confirmation, a move not unexpected considering Cochran’s 40-year acquaintance with the former Nebraska senator.
Wicker, meanwhile, contributed to the Joe McCarthy-like moment with this distortion: “Senator Hagel has accused Israel of quote ‘playing games’ and committing, quote, ‘sickening slaughter,’ ” Sen. Wicker said before Tuesday’s confirmation vote, which had been delayed 12 days by a Republican filibuster.
Not true at all, writes Milbank.
What the former GOP senator actually said in a Senate speech on the 2006 Lebanon war, was this: “The sickening slaughter on both sides must end.”
Wicker’s willingness to sacrifice some of his credibility as part of his party’s campaign to lower the stature of our defense secretary could have consequences.
Not saying Secretary Hagel will hold anything against Wicker. But perhaps the junior senator shouldn’t skip lunch waiting for a call back from Hagel on something like preserving Mississippi’s military bases or defense industry work.
Hagel, after all, has a right to expect credibility on the part of his partners in government.
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