Chuck Hagel's first day before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee did not go well. Yesterday, the former Nebraska senator appeared ill-prepared, tentative, and at times, in over his head as he went into a heariing that he knew was going to be a lion's den.
Supporters say it was all theater; that he will still likely win confirmation, with few Democrats breaking party lines. I'm not so sure about that. Yes, there were some Republicans who showboated, such as Texas freshman Ted Cruz who went all Meet The Press on Hagel. Cruz played two tapes from Hagel's appearances on Al Jazeera — one of which showed him not challenging a caller who accused Israel of war crimes, another in which he appeared to agree big-time with the assertion that America is "the world's bully."
Also, can we really take any members of the Senate seriously who bemoan the growing federal deficit, when so many of them (Democrats and Republicans) rush to protect pet defense projects in their home states?
Cabinet nominees are virtually never rejected. There's been less than 10 in our history. So even if Hagel barely gets through (like John Ashcroft as A.G. in 2001), nobody's going to really remember it — unless there are issues that surface when he becomes defense secretary.
Just as the questioning began, Marco Rubio, now getting heat from his conservative supporters on immigration, immediately announced he would not vote for Hagel when his nomination comes before the entire Senate.
Speaking of immigration, four Florida university professors spoke on a conference call advocating for comprehensive immigration reform.
My feature story in CL this week is about Bayfront Hospital's new "strategic partnership" with health care giant HMA.
And we've got a Super Bowl to watch on Sunday. You can read my breakdown on everything from the commercials, halftime performances, and other things to look out for, here.