I read Sheldon Richmond's essay on Chuck Hegal's confirmation hearings and he raises a series of interesting concerns. I know little about Chuck Hagel prior to his confirmation hearings and really don't know much more at this point. However the gist of what Sheldon Richmond says is that Hagel sounds like someone who speaks his mind, may be wrong when he takes contrary stands, but has not shied away from raising concerns when they are not popular. The problem with people like this is you never quite know whether they are crazy or insightful (or perhaps both). As Sheldon Richmond sees the current approval process, it is less about vetting ideas as opposed to being beholden to sacred and unquestionable positions.
Ideas can be old or new. They can evolve and change, often to the betterment of those affected by those ideas. Creating and floating new ideas involves taking risks. Create a world where the risks of creating and pushing new ideas become prohibitive, new ideas come less frequently. If everything new idea is quickly vetted in a very large public domain, it creates new and larger risks for those who are conceiving and pushing those ideas.
Within the world of medicine, I am not sure that such an environment exists.