Chuck Hagel was finally sworn in as defense secretary today, but not before enduring one last salvo of smears before yesterday's confirmation vote. Two Republicans said Hagel had accused Israel of "commiting, quote, 'sickening slaughter,'" Dana Milbank reports. "There was something sickening about this, but it wasn't Hagel's quote," he writes in the Washington Post. What Hagel actually said, in a 2006 speech about the Lebanon war, was, "The sickening slaughter on both sides must end."
"It was one of many moments from the past few weeks that Joe McCarthy would have admired," Milbank writes. Republicans repeatedly lobbed baseless accusations; some even suggested that Hagel got speaking fees from "extreme or radical groups," or Saudi Arabia, or North Korea. Yesterday, they congratulated themselves for their unprecedented obstruction—either ignoring or explicitly pleased that it would weaken Hagel overseas—and said they hadn't impugned his honor. "No, they merely suggested that he is on the payroll of terrorists and in the pockets of America’s enemies." Click for the full post.