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The Hagel nomination: Next!

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Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Chuck Hagel is toast. At least he should be. And if he's not, the advice and consent function of the Congress is irrevocably broken.

Mr. Hagel, the former Republican U.S. senator of Nebraska, is President Barack Obama's nominee to replace Leon Panetta as secretary of Defense. Some consider Hagel to be a natural choice, considering his exemplary Vietnam service and dedication to military matters during his Senate career. But others long have worried about not only his temperament but his rather refined ability to honk off allies and comfort our adversaries.

Then, last week, Hagel sat before the Senate Armed Services Committee for his confirmation hearing. The rubber met the road — and left tracks up Hagel's back. He stumbled. He fumbled. He mumbled. He dissembled. It was a troubling performance.

But there's more. And it's worse. Hagel has turned uppity — about giving the committee copies of paid speeches he has given since leaving the Senate four years ago and about disclosing all of his financial interests. Foreign influence appears to be the ultimate question. Hagel adamantly refuses to volunteer more information. Saying some of the information wasn't his to release, he even told the committee in a letter that it should contact the IRS for some of the financial details. Talk about a fit of snit.

Chuck Hagel is not fit to be Defense secretary. He should withdraw his name. Should he not, the committee should show him the door.

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