September 8, 2007

The Hagel fizzle.

Chuck Hagel gives up -- his Senate seat and his presidential ambitions.
He has become a leading Senate voice on foreign policy, promoting a pragmatic approach of reaching out to allies and adversaries alike to build economic, social and political relationships.

A decorated Vietnam combat veteran, Hagel drew the most attention for his break with the Republican president on Iraq.

Early this year, his frustration erupted after Bush announced plans for a troop buildup to try to curb violence in Iraq. Hagel labeled it "the worst foreign policy blunder since Vietnam - if it's carried out."

That and other criticism triggered a backlash from some conservatives, who viewed him as disloyal to the Republican president and potentially jeopardizing troops abroad.

Hagel didn't relish the attacks. He explained how Vietnam had a big impact on his view of this war. He recalled Congress' silence during much of Vietnam, as well as the 58,000 Americans who died. He said he didn't want that history to repeat itself.

"I'll be damned if I'm going to stand there and accept the status quo and let it all happen again," he said.
If the surge were a disaster, he would have gotten traction. Fortunately, it's not.

35 comments:

Joseph Hovsep said...

... and Kerrey gives the Democrats another seat in the Senate.

Gedaliya said...

Albeit one who supports the Iraq war:

Iraq is Central to the War on Terror

rcocean said...

What killed Hagel's senate career wasn't just his disagreement with Bush on Iraq but his whole RINO behavior. Support for Amnesty, his constant attacks on other Republicans on MTP, his alliance with Ted Kennedy on any number of domestic matters.

I'll go even further and state that if he'd joined Sessions in the fight against Amnesty, he probably could have won renomination. But he was determined to stick it to the base on every issue, every chance he got.

And Sen. Martinez is a dead man walking.

Tim said...

This is excellent news for America.

First Warner, now Hegel. Surrender Now Republicans are withdrawing.

SteveR said...

Its about the legacy, maverick republican (fill in the blank) who voiced opposition to the administartion on Iraq. blah blah blah. No matter the entirity of the voting record, they'll be viewed with admiration (by some).

Chuck we never knew ya

LarsPorsena said...

Plus the fact he was going to get a stiff primary challenge if he decided to stay.

One less Chuck in the Senate.
Only one more to be rid of.

Jeff said...

Hagel's an embarrassment to all Nebraskans.

Mark Daniels said...

Hagel voted with the Bush Administration more than any other member of the Senate. That gets lost in a lot of this RINO talk.

There is a strong argument to be made that George W. Bush and the Republican Congress of the past few years have been the RINOs, departing from historic Republican principles such as realistic foreign policy, limited government, and responsible spending. Instead, we've seen interventionism and nation-building a la Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, and Lyndon Johnson. We've seen spending that would make Franklin Roosevelt blush. We've seen pork barrel spending that makes Robert Byrd seem restrained.

And don't even get me started on recent GOP efforts to pass national legislation to regulate what goes on in people's bedrooms.

Andrew Sullivan was right a few years ago when he said that today, we don't have a Republican Party. We have two parties: one that favors large government and another that favors even larger government.

I like Hagel. He seems to have some integrity. He's a war hero. But the armchair warriors quick to send others kids to war don't seem to see him that way. It isn't fair and it isn't very courageous either.

Mark Daniels

Simon said...

The partisan me wants to agree with rcocean and Tim, but the realist in me is terrified at the prospect of how much damage to this country could be done in two years if the Democrats walk out of the 2008 election with a sixty vote majority in the Senate. As with the House election last year, I'm caught between the desire to have Republican control of the chamber and near-total contempt for the Republican in name only incumbents (and I use that term not to refer to the moderate wing, for whom I have a lot of sympathy, but those who've participated in the orgy of spending and nationalization of policymaking).

Joseph Hovsep said...

What Mark said. I don't like most of Hagel's views (with the exception of Iraq), but he's hardly a sellout to Republican principles.

And he would have easily been renominated and won his seat again if he wanted it, despite talk of a primary challenge. He also stood by his pledge to only serve twelve years.

B said...

Mark,

Most of us conservatives have made peace with the fact that government is going to grow, not downsize.

The question is, which party is going to grow it less?

Duh.

Mark Daniels said...

b:
Duh right back at ya.

Of course, government will grow. But to willfully grow it through the use of pork and to establish cumbersome, unnecessary, ineffectual bureaucracies, designed either to placate interest groups or to throw money at problems is far from Republican principles.

Mark

Simon said...

Mark:
"We've seen spending that would make Franklin Roosevelt blush."

That's like saying that Stalin would blush to see how repressive Brezhnev was. Roosevelt is the one who fought to expand the federal sphere beyond recognition, so he could hardly then moan at the consequences.

Simon said...

B said...
"Most of us conservatives have made peace with the fact that government is going to grow, not downsize."

I've not made peace with that. I still hope to see cuts in real terms both the size and scope of government at the federal level, including overall spending. At very least, I think we can shed the functions that the federal government has no place doing in the first place, even if in the long run cutting back on stuff that government can volitionally do is elusive. I'm not a Paulista, but I'm optimistic.

Gedaliya said...

Not while we're at war.

Simon said...

Gedaliya - if that's directed at my optimism at the prospects of cutting federal spending, my reply would be that although defense is the single largest expenditure in the federal budget, it's less than half - quite a lot less than half, in fact - of the total federal budget, and unlike the next-largest expenditure, social security, has no inherent necessity of growth. I think we could significantly reduce both government spending and the policy areas swept into the federal ambit while leaving defense wholly untouched.

Mark Daniels said...

Simon:
You're kind of missing my point, which is that Bush and the Republican Congress--and I voted for Bush and am a registered Republican--have overspent and overly-bureaucratized the government in ways that are completely inconsistent with traditional Republican principles.

Mark

Tim said...

"The partisan me wants to agree with rcocean and Tim, but the realist in me is terrified at the prospect of how much damage to this country could be done in two years if the Democrats walk out of the 2008 election with a sixty vote majority in the Senate."

Simon, I agree that is a risk - albeit a small one. The larger risk is the liberal Democrat notions about Iraq (that somehow the war against militant Islamic fascism is optional, that the current battlefield in Iraq is optional, and that we can abandon our mission in Iraq without cost, indeed, with benefit) infect weak-willed, craven Republicans like Warner and Hegel and spreads.

Republicans are, quite literally, the last line of defense against the reflexive quit and surrender preferences of Democrats. And for as much as I am a life-long, committed conservative and Republican, the interest's of the party pale in consideration of those of the nation. I am no longer accepting the Lincoln Chafee/Arlen Spector argument that we have to support these guys because the other side might win. Or is Ted Stevens and Trent Lott an acceptable price to you? They embarrass the hell out of me.

Democrats couldn't have won Congress without the Blue Dogs - conservatives, whether they be Blue Dogs or Republicans, will still have a place and an effect. Losing first Warner and then Hagel is a net plus, for now.

Cedarford said...

I take exception to a few posts lumping John Warner and Hagel together. Warner was respected. Like the elder Chaffee - mightily respected by both Parties.

Lieberman was disliked by his Party's Left Wing, but respected greatly by leaders and voters of Connecticut - and that is what counted in the end.

Hagel was beloved only by the media who saw him as a John Forbes Kerry-like war hero whose opposition to Bush was always "principled".

Both parties saw him as a weak-willed waffler. Voters in Nebraska saw him as a not-so-bright quasi-Democrat, not another Kerrey.

Good riddance.

rcocean said...

Good grief, could we stop with the "War Hero" nonsense?

Weren't FDR, Harry Hopkins, Abe Lincoln and his entire cabinet, and Wilson all "Chicken-hawks"?

And isn't it obvious that if Ms. Hillary is elected POTUS and attacks, say Iran, no Democrat will call HER a chicken-hawk?

Nixon, Wallace, LBJ, McGovern, and Goldwater were all war heroes. I guess being "war hero" didn't mean much since you had War Heroes on both sides. The only "Chicken-hawk" was Humphrey.

And Hitler, Goering, Tojo, Mao, Franco, Beria and Khrushchev were all "war Heroes".

Simon said...

Mark, I understand your point, and agree with it, I'm just not going to buy the suggestion that it's anything that would have shocked Roosevelt. ;)

Tim said...
"Simon, I agree that is a risk - albeit a small one."

The prospects for the GOP to deprive the Dems of any Senate seats in 2008 are woeful, and the're a non-discountable possibility that we'll lose several. It seems to me that the GOP is vulnerable in Virginia, Minnesota, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Oregon. And Schumer thinks they can Win Idaho, which sounds preposterous, but I'm no longer willing to bet money on that.

Mark Daniels said...

rc:
I agree that past military service is totally irrelevant to whether one can serve effectively as commander-in-chief. But I do get upset with people who are casual about sending people off to war, nothing which they would even consider doing.

Mark

Simon said...

Mark, that's fine, but you're delineating an unpopulated class. No one, not the most enthusiastic advocate of the Iraq war -- not even Bill Kristol -- is "casual about sending people off to war."

Re chickenhawk Presidents, I remember one of the shows that Ann was on, I called in with a question, but while I was on hold another questioner asserted that it was awful that Bush was running the war without having served himself. I couldn't resist rejoining this before getting to my own comments, pointing out that neither Roosevelt nor Lincoln served, and they did pretty well, whereupon Ann's co-guest said that Roosevelt did serve. I told her that being an assistant secretary of the navy doesn't count as serving, and if it does, then why doesn't Cheney's service as SecDef count a fortiori? That shut her up.

Mark Daniels said...

Simon:
I'm not talking about Bush or any of the pols. I'm talking about ordinary citizens.

Mark

MadisonMan said...

I think it's a little premature to judge the surge either a success or a failure. The proof is in what happens post-surge. It might be termed a non-disaster now -- but in the future?

Maybe I'm just a pessimist.

downtownlad said...

I agree the surge is not a disaster. More American soldiers are dying than last year.

So that means less anti-gay bigots to vote against removing my rights.

Success!

downtownlad said...

I've not made peace with that. I still hope to see cuts in real terms both the size and scope of government at the federal level, including overall spending. At very least, I think we can shed the functions that the federal government has no place doing in the first place, even if in the long run cutting back on stuff that government can volitionally do is elusive.

I agree completely.

Eliminate Social Security. I'm sick and tired of lazy old people stealing my money. If they don't have anyone to take care of them, then they should fend for themselves. If they can't, well Dr. Kevorkian can help them out.

Eliminate Medicare/Medicaid. Why are we using our tax dollars to help sick people who are contributing absolutely NOTHING to society. Sorry - go away.

Farm subsidies - Why are we giving my hard earned money to anti-gay bigoted fly-over-country farmers. I don't need your subsidized processed carbohydrates that are making people fat. Happy to buy my food from China at a lower price thank you very much.

Faith-based-subsidies - Barf me with a spoon. I don't want to pay for delusional-Jesus-believing-freaks. If they want to believe in the Tooth Fairy or Jesus or whatever, fine - but not on my dime.

The War - No - I don't want to pay $200 billion a year for awar that is making as less safe. Duh!!!!

$600 million dollar embasies in Baghdad with deluxe swimming pools - Yes - your tax dollars hard at work.

Etc., etc., etc.

Revenant said...

I like Hagel. He seems to have some integrity. He's a war hero. But the armchair warriors quick to send others kids to war don't seem to see him that way. It isn't fair and it isn't very courageous either.

Even if we overlooked the fact that war supporters are more likely to be veterans than war opponents, your argument would still be a silly bunch of horseshit.

Yes, Hagel was a war hero in Vietnam. Big freaking deal; so was McCain, who thinks Hagel's position on the war was flat-out wrong. The moral of this story -- obvious to those of us with brains -- is that how bravely you fight in a war means nothing when it comes to deciding whether fighting a *later* war is a good idea. Because no matter where you stand on this war, the fact of the matter is that there are plenty of veterans who think you're wrong.

hdhouse said...

here is a couple amazing facts about vets and their weight on the war, either pro or con:

they get one vote just like anyone else.

wearing a uniform or not wearing one has nothing whatsoever to do with judgment.

being a POW or a war vet, not just x-armed services, or for that matter being a x-soldier/sailor, etc. means you learned skills that go with that job. it dosn't automatically make you brighter or more learned on how to run a country.

Mark Daniels said...

My mentioning that Hagel was a war hero was this:

People who automatically dismissed his position on the war, treating him like a yellow-bellied peacenik, overlooked his record.

As to who's wrong between McCain and Hagel, you can debate that if you want. I have my own opinion, but it was beside the point I was trying to make, which is that so-called conservatives have been unfair to Hagel. His positions not only on spending and the role of government, but on foreign policy, are more consistent with traditional Republican and conservative principles than are those of Bush or, more recently, McCain.

If conservatives want to say, "We've changed our minds about our guiding principles. We now embrace Wilsonian nation-building as a policy of the US government. We now believe that Keynesianism and profligate spending are conservative," that's fine. It has something of a 1984-"war is peace" quality to it. But they're free to do it.

But I don't believe that any conservative has the right to pillory Chuck Hagel precisely because he has the temerity to be an authentic and consistent conservative Republican.

Mark

Gedaliya said...

But I don't believe that any conservative has the right to pillory Chuck Hagel precisely because he has the temerity to be an authentic and consistent conservative Republican.

I have the "right" to pillory Hagel precisely because I believe his position on the Iraq was is misguided and dangerous for our nation.

It is fatuous for you to suggest that his Iraq views represent "authentic and consistent" conservatism. His views represent his views, not some abstract version of conservatism.

Mark Daniels said...

Gedaliya:
Of course you have the right to think whatever you want. But historically speaking, Hagel's views about the war in Iraq specifically and foreign policy generally, whether those views are right or wrong, are consistent with the mainstream of Republican thinking. That's true whether you're talking about Ronald Reagan. George H. W. Bush, Barry Goldwater, or Dwight Eisenhower. That was my only point.

I object to people wanting to write Hagel off as a Republican precisely because he is a true Republican. As I mentioned in my first comment, he's voted with the President more than any other Senator. He has one of the most conservative voting records in the Congress.

Yet people have called him a RINO. That's both absurd and intellectually lazy. Disagree with his views, to be sure. Everybody has that right. But when some want to write him or John Warner, Dick Lugar, or George Voinovich out of the Republican Party, that seems completely inappropriate to me.

The Goldwaterites and the McGovernites both tried to purge folks from their respective parties who weren't "pure enough" for them. The results were the same in both instances: big time electoral losses.

Though Reagam was inarguably conservative, he also understood that parties are big tents in which not everyone will march in lockstep on every issue. That's why in 1976, as he ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination, he inidcated that he'd nominate liberal Republican Senator Dick Schweikert for vice president. That's why he got things done both as a governor and as president, though he had to work with Democrats to achieve anything.

My point in this discussion hasn't been to say that parties must adhere to rigid and abstract philosophies. I have been saying that party members need to be allowed to differ on some issues. Such an allowance should especially be made for people like Hagel, I think, because he represents the historical mainstream views of his party, whereas many of Mr. Bush's policies seem, in many ways, to be a pastiche of Kennedy/Rockefeller liberalism dressed in conservative jargon.

Mark

Gedaliya said...

Mark...

I must confess that it is difficult for me to discuss Hagel with dispassion. For the last five years he's made it his business to incessantly carp about and criticize the president's war policy without offering any constructive alternative. He's allied himself with the president's most strident critics, and in doing so has done much to erode support for what I believe is the most crucial issue of our time.

It's debatable whether or not Hagel represents "mainstream Republican thinking." Even so, I've never written him off, or called him a RINO. I actually think Hagel is strange...a fellow torn between a principled political stance and a love of the limelight. As you've pointed out, his voting record is solidly Republican. Even so, all of those votes pale in comparison to his stance on the war, and those other votes, at least in my view, do not mitigate the damage he's done.

I welcome constructive criticism of the president's policies. However, it seems to me that Hagel has spent too much time basking in the limelight and too little time working to effectuate policies that are in the national interest. We agree that it is healthy for the party to have dissent in the ranks. Even so, given Hagel’s petulant, even angry public attitude toward the president’s Iraq policy, I cannot see how his contributions can be adjudged constructive when measured in the whole.

rcocean said...

"The Hagel Fizzle"

Sounds like a new drink.

Hey barkeep, give me a "Hagel fizzle" on the rocks, with some ground RINO on the side.

Revenant said...

People who automatically dismissed his position on the war, treating him like a yellow-bellied peacenik, overlooked his record.

Who were these alleged people? Who, exactly, accused him of being "yellow-bellied"?

Hagel's position on the war was, and is, wrong and based in either ignorance or opportunism. That has nothing to do with his personal bravery or lack thereof.