The Corner

The Hagelian Dialectic

Question for conservatives:

How much worse is it for the country to have an incompetent secretary of defense implementing bad policies ineptly than to have a relatively competent secretary of defense implementing those same bad policies more efficiently?

Prior to Hagel’s spectacle before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday, the answer arguably might be, “Not that much.”( Is it worse to be driven to your root canal by your inept cousin or your efficient friend?) Hagel’s deficiencies, however, can’t be dismissed as garden-variety. His performance yesterday raises serious questions about the vetting process leading to his nomination. The country deserves, and can do, better.

On the other hand, it would be hard to do much better than one of Hagel’s interlocutors — Senator Ted Cruz. He’s only been in office a few days but his performance yesterday suggests a star in the making. His style was substance.

Joe Scarborough (among others) disagrees, maintaining that Cruz turned yesterday’s hearing into “a clown show.” That it was, but Scarborough misidentifies the clown.

Cruz should be pleased to be the subject of such scorn. Smart, principled, aggressive, conservative Republicans are subject to special opprobrium from Beltway elites. It’s why, over time, some of them — Republicans, that is – seek “strange new respect.” Something about Cruz suggests he won’t be one of them.


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