The Constitution empowers the Senate to confirm the president's nominees for Cabinet posts and other high office. In all of US history, it has rejected just nine Cabinet nominees. A dozen other nominees either withdrew or failed to get a floor vote. Nevertheless, confirmation hearings can be contentious: senators can use them to gain publicity, score political points, or send policy messages to the administration. Chuck Hagel, President Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense, had a difficult time in his confirmation hearing yesterday. CNN reports:
Dana Bash also reports that John McCain (R-Arizona), who was very tough on Hagel, was once a close ally:
Lindsay Graham (R-SC), another senator who has been close to McCain, illustrates a point about political rhetoric: when you make a categorical statement, you'd better be prepared for a particular kind of followup question: "Name one."