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After Hagel’s Ordeal, Why Would Anyone Want to Serve in Washington?

Now that a few more Republicans have said they will vote for cloture on Chuck Hagel’s nomination the filibuster against him should end. Next week the Senate will likely again vote on Hagel and he should soon become the next Secretary of Defense.

In the short term the Republican’s unprecedented move of blocking the first cloture vote against Hagel’s nomination will only have the impact of delaying Hagel from starting his new job by a few weeks. Long term, though, it will make our already dysfunctional government just a bit crappier.

While I’m not personally the biggest fan of Hagel, there was zero legitimate justification for Republicans to block his nomination. Hagel was not involved in a scandal or had no issue that would prevent him from doing his job. As a former senator he clearly meets the minimum qualifications for the job.

In fact, many of the senators who blocked his nomination openly admitted there was not a legitimate problem with Hagel. Many admitted to blocking him to try to get the administration to take action on an unrelated issue or even out of petty political grudge.

If Republican senators will treat a former Republican colleague with a clean record this way, what hope does anyone else have? A message has been sent. No matter how qualified, no matter how free of scandal, no matter how important the job, there is no nominee that is safe from being strung along for months to be used as a political ploy or just out of pure spite. What sane person would sign up for that?

Republicans have made the already idiotic and unpleasant process of “vetting” an executive appointee even worse and Senate Democrats let them. If you want an effective government you need qualified people to run it. The less appealing the job is made, the harder it will be to get good people to serve.

Photo by petejordan under Creative Commons license

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at