To watch Texas Republican Ted Cruz, before serving a day in the Senate, before any hearings or meeting with Hagel face-to-face, come out against him, tells us a lot about Ted Cruz. To read Mississippi GOP Sen. Roger Wickerís statement, accusing the president of fomenting bitter partisan gridlock by choosing as his nominee for Defense a former two-term Republican senator, tells us that Wicker, a solid legislator, has lost his perspective on where bitter partisan gridlock is coming from.
I donít begrudge any senator a negative vote against a nominee. That is the prerogative of a senator. But when top nominations made right after an election get not the benefit of the doubt but character attacks, it is not a good sign. The real test here is whether Republicans take this to the next level and filibuster any of these highly qualified and superior individuals who are the considered choices of the president. If that happens, it is a sign that elections, propriety and the intent of the advise and consent clause donít matter when they come up against the tribalism that now dominates our politics.
Norman Ornstein is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.