(Informed Consent) — The confirmation hearing in the Senate for Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, was painful to watch because it displayed the tomfoolery, pretense, self-righteous know-nothingism, and embarrassing lack of contact with reality that dominate the landscape of America’s broken democracy. It was like watching a Nebraska ordinary Joe set upon by circus freaks– a phalanx of moral midgets, stalking cat-men, vicious lobster boys and ethical werewolves.
Those who regretted that Hagel seldom stood his ground, often just deflected persnickety questions, and sometimes was made to recite the catechisms of Neoconservative orthodoxy, should remember that what is important in Washington is willingness to conform orally, regardless of what one actually believes or how one acts. Hagel might agree to look like he is being pushed around by his former colleagues, for the sake of their face and his. He won’t agree actually to be pushed around once he is in office.