More DC Play-Acting

January 8, 2013 6:53 p.m.

Nominations lose steam or gain steam. Campaigns against nominations lose steam or gain steam. And at the moment, the campaign against Chuck Hagel’s nomination is losing steam. AIPAC and the ADL have both signaled they do not plan to make a fight of it. Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister is giving Hagel the thumbs up. Now even the Washington Post editorial page has signaled it’s backing off its opposition.As I noted on Sunday, the prospect of a five seat Democratic majority denying a reelected President the nomination of a former Senator who is blandly unobjectionable anywhere outside the hothouse of DC was always quite unlikely. And these tells are consequential precisely because they signal that the parties in question don’t think it’s a winnable fight.

So what now?

Politico says Senate Republicans are now ‘scoffing’ at the probable nomination of Jack Lew as the next Secretary of the Treasury. Why isn’t clear other than that the Hagel stunt doesn’t seem to be panning out.

But here’s a point that seems worth journalists noting: This was the sort of thing Republicans should have thought about before they didn’t win the Senate back. Democrats have a 55 seat majority. The Hagel hazing is somewhat distinct in that the Israel issue cuts across party lines. So there’s some vague plausibility to it. But Republicans aren’t going to block Jack Lew’s nomination and it won’t be because they can’t make their argument well enough. It will be because they don’t have the votes. And they don’t have the votes.

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