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However, the Democrats stride as giants compared to the Republicans, with the possible exception of Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntWe must fund community health centers now Overnight Tech: Senators demand tech firms do more on Russian meddling | House Intel releases Russian-promoted ads | Apple CEO says 'fake news' bigger threat than ads | Ex-Yahoo CEO, Equifax execs to testify on breaches Facebook: Clinton, Trump campaigns spent a combined M on ads MORE (R-Mo.), who are relentless in their cheap shots to justify their predetermined hostility to Hagel. Particularly offensive are Senator John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore GOP strategist: 'There needs to be a repudiation' of Roy Moore by Republicans World leaders reach agreement on trade deal without United States: report MORE's insistence that the witness pay homage to McCain's dogma on the sanctity of the "surge" as rescuing America from ignominy in Iraq (which it did not) and Senator Inhofe's bumbling small mindedness as he introduced himself to the nation as the leading Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. If this is the best the Republicans can do to explain themselves to the country on national security issues, their domicile in America's political wilderness has a long way to go before it is over.
 
How ironic that Senator Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCNN to air sexual harassment Town Hall featuring Gretchen Carlson, Anita Hill Trump wrestles with handling American enemy combatants Flake: Trump's call for DOJ to probe Democrats 'not normal' MORE (R-S.C.) should use intimidation to corner the cowering Hagel into professing he could think of no senator that was intimidated by the Israel lobby. Having seen that sort of intimidation for decades as a Senate staffer (both from senators and lobbyists), it was a sad moment indeed in the annals of the Senate to see a witness not stand up to the tawdry tactics; a historic moment for pride as a citizen it was surely not.
 
The committee has recessed for a flurry of votes in the Senate; it will resume for a second round of questions. One can only hope that Hagel can show the mettle to extract decent and intelligent behavior from the senators on the committee from his own party in the next round, but that hope is clearly a stretch.

Wheeler is director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO).