by Deona Hooper, MSW
Today, the United States Senate finally confirmed Chuck Hagel as the US Defense Secretary with a 58 to 41 vote after a grueling confirmation hearing. With sequester cuts looming on the horizon, Hagel’s confirmation couldn’t have come at a better time with the deep cuts slated for the defense department on March 1st. No surprise that the Senate voted largely along party lines, but the confirmation is being seen as a win for the Obama Administration. Chuck Hagel became the first Secretary of Defense in US History to be filibustered on order to prevent a confirmation vote. However, the GOP claims that it was not a filibuster more than a prolonged inquiry.
MacCarthyism was mentioned quite a few times during the Chuck Hagel confirmation hearings largely due to accusations made by freshman Republican Senator Ted Cruz from Texas. MacCarthyism was named after Republican Senator Joe MacCarthy who made accusations that the State Department had been infiltrated by communist during the Truman Administration without any basis or evidence. The Washington Post did an extensive article on some of the accusations made against Hagel. Here is an excerpt:
Even before Hagel was formally nominated, conservative media had publishedallegations that the former Republican senator from Nebraska was anti-Semitic. The innuendo reached a whole new level when freshman Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) suggested at a Senate hearing that Hagel may have received speaking fees from “extreme or radical groups,” adding: “It is at a minimum relevant to know if that $200,000 that he deposited in his bank account came directly from Saudi Arabia, came directly from North Korea.”
Next, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) gave credence to a hoax, published credulously in the conservative press, that Hagel had received funds from a fictitious group called Friends of Hamas. Asked about this by radio host Hugh Hewitt, Paul replied: “You know, I saw that information today, also, and that is more and more concerning.”