Oklahoma and Chuck Hagel


I’m in Oklahoma today — returning to D.C. on Monday.
I paid $2.11 a gallon for gas in Bartlesville in fact. It was $2.36 in Centreville, Maryland on Saturday — and $2.94 in D.C.
I just received this extensive profile by the New Yorker‘s Connie Bruck on Senator Chuck Hagel.
I haven’t read it yet — but you bet I will in the morning. But TWN readers in Japan and Australia can get a head start on me — and the many insomniacs who read this blog.
Congrats to all those who raced in today’s Marine Corps Marathon in Washington.
More soon.
— Steve Clemons


22 comments on “Oklahoma and Chuck Hagel

  1. Zathras says:

    “…little patience with situations he cannot control”, eh? And people want Sen. Hagel in the Pentagon?
    This was the first really in-depth personal profile of Hagel I’d read. It was very interesting, and so is Hagel. I continue to think he’d do very well in an important, but not central, job in an Obama administration: one that perhaps involved responsibilities no one else in the government could fulfill, like running the Tokyo embassy or a difficult agency like NASA. Running the largest government department is different. It demands either someone who can get along with most of his colleagues even when he disagrees deeply with all of them, or someone willing to fight battles even when he knows he’ll probably lose. This profile suggests Hagel is not either kind of person. In the Senate he supported the Bush administration more often than even most Republican Senators, yet found himself isolated in his caucus, and we should expect this wouldn’t happen again if he joined an Obama Cabinet….why? But put him off somewhere where he can come closer to running the show himself and he’d be fine. It isn’t as if there isn’t important work to be done outside the senior Cabinet positions, you know.


  2. annjell says:

    Here we go again with the Rev. Wright thing again.
    Okay, here’s the deal. Ralph Nader is Lebanese American, by birth or naturalization, I don’t know. There hasn’t been anything mentioned about this. What is his religion? Mr. Nader is a consumer activist, yet, he manages to end up on the ballot for president every election. Why not senator or congressman?
    Does he get a pass because he has a somewhat American name?
    Sarah Palin, a witch doctor by the name of Rev. Muthee? Is this an acceptable religion? Anyone remember the Salem Witch trials? Does the witch doctor have something to do with people getting hurt at every one of her rallies, in addition to the flat tires?
    IMO, Todd Palin is like a stage mom (unbearable mothers forcing their kids into acting). I am wondering if he has something in his past(such as the Alaska Independence Party) that prevents him from running for public office, so he pushes his wife to do this.
    It’s funny that McCain picks someone that causes controversy in her state, but thought that somehow, she would be loyal to him!!!
    That’s odd, my motto, you run with dogs, you catch flees – you lay down with dogs, you come out smelling like s—.


  3. rich says:

    “Heading up the GOP voter suppression effort in Indiana is Secretary of State Todd Rokita. And he certainly doesn’t lack for experience. Rokita was one of the key GOP foot soldiers responsible for shutting down the Florida recount back in 2000.”
    Between knocking voters off the rolls because their homes are in foreclosure (though they may still be living in them) and pretending a mis-spelling trumps the right to vote, the Republican Party is well on its way to a new low.


  4. rich says:

    btw, I agree wholeheartedly with POA that there is very likely to be ballot shenanigans in the 2008 Przntl election. Count on it: “Hans van Spaskovsy has been hired as a “consultant and temporary full-time employee” at the ostensibly bi-partisan U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) the agency confirmed to TPMmuckraker.”
    Spakovsky was denied confirmation to the FEC because he’s worked tirelessly to deny Americans the right to vote. Yet:
    “Among Spakovsky’s duties will be overseeing the USCCR’s report on the Justice Department’s monitoring of the 2008 presidential elections, a source inside the USCCR told TPMmuckraker.”
    So when there are problems—and there will be—get ready for Spakovsky to cry wolf if Obama wins and declare a clean bill of health where McCain pulls out surprising, voting-machine-assisted upsets.
    With HAVA guidelines in place and voter roll urges already documented, expect to see voting denied and votes stolen in key precincts. This is aside from and in addition to the cheap games to suppress the vote (robocalls urging Dems to vote 3 days after the election) and the crying wolf over ‘voter fraud’, in which errors in registration are never evidence of fraudulent voting.
    RE Chuck Hagel and ES&S—I agree politicians can have no interest in these companies—and these companies can have no role in counting votes. We have plenty of time to count paper ballots, regardless of the domestic or international circumstances. There’s simply no excuse for it.
    I was angry upon reading of Hagel’s involvement with ES&S, but a possible/likely scenario may be that a sleazy programmer-exec-political operator/sabateur simply lied to old Chuck Hagel, and took him for a ride. But I also know, were I to re-read the original story, I’d change back and indict Hagel with the more obvious explanation.
    POA is right:
    “It is this attitude that has brought us to this juncture in American history, where our nation’s leaders can successfully and brazenly hold themselves above and beyond the letter of the law. . . It is no small wonder that we have arrived at a point in our history where the obvious criminality of this Administration goes un-indicted and unpunished”
    Much as I appreciate Hagel’s vocal opposition to Bush’s radical policies and fascist tendencies–and I use that in the literal sense–we require substantive action. We–the country–requires that all votes are counted. It only takes one stolen election to get us into this crisis—and a military doctrine in which George Bush precisely replicated the third reich’s ludicrously implausible ‘I-had-to-attack-France/Poland/etc.-first-because-they-were-gonna-attack-Germany-first’. This is the basic & original reason Germany was a threat and could be seen as evil. A just war is a defensive war, and hitler turned that on its head by inciting fear, asserting a nonexistent imminent threat, and claiming justification for an unprovoked and offensive invasion. And if you don’t need a Constitutionally mandated Declaration of War for that, then when DO you need one? A ‘pre-emptive war’, by that or any other name, still stinks of betrayal and reeks of death and dishonor.
    This is not really a harsh assessment. It’s not who you think you are, it’s how you behave.
    Consider: If we can’t all agree to count the votes, then there will be no one acting in good faith when it comes to upholding the Constitution or doing right by our men and women in uniform. Or looking after the national interest or national security. The invasion of Iraq was not carried out for those purposes.


  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Mr Murder….
    There is much you post here that I disagree with, and much that we see eye to eye on.
    Hagel’s actions in regards to ES&S are really all we need to know about the man, and it is quite telling that so many are willing to ignore or forgive his actions. I have brought up the ES&S crimes here on too many occassions to count, yet Steve has never once sought to explain why he is willing to give Hagel a free pass on this issue. Its as if it never happened, that such crimes are irrelevant or hardly newsworthy. It is this attitude that has brought us to this juncture in American history, where our nation’s leaders can successfully and brazenly hold themselves above and beyond the letter of the law. Pundits, politicians, mouthpieces, and partisan hacks point their fingers along political lines, selectively demanding accountability from their political rivals, while giving their allies a free pass to commit crimes at will. It is no small wonder that we have arrived at a point in our history where the obvious criminality of this Administration goes un-indicted and unpunished, and we see criminal machinations robbing us of our voices through a corrupt and unsecure balloting process. It will hardly be suprising if the GOP steals yet one more presidential election, as I suspect they probably will.


  6. Mr.Murder says:

    Hagel doesn’t have principles, he’s a weathervane.
    He enabled the hijacking of Democracy via ES&S.
    There’s no there, there.


  7. rich says:

    I’d like to see Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. I definitely do NOT want to see John Kerry as Secretary of State. (I’ll comment on that several posts back.)
    I was irked that Hagel was voting in lockstep with Bush, way back, and gave him a little grief for it, before Steve began championing Hagel here.
    But I’ve been impressed at the way he eventually responded, coming out publicly for a common-sense, productive, values-driven foreign policy.
    Despite DavidT’s comment above, we need those qualities in our leaders and an insistence on applying our principles in practice, precisely in order to even approach a foreign policy stance effective enough to produce the desired results. That’s what we’ve been lacking, and I reject the notion that Baker’s lack of principles made gains in the national interest. Nothing says Hagel wouldn’t bend as needed; point is, you’ve got to have principles to bend ’em.
    Interesting point in The New Yorker profile on Hagel’s letters. While Steve has feted those letters as an example of working behind the scenes and within the party to effect change—or more accurately make one’s views known on paper, rather than calling Bush out publicly—the reality is far different.
    Sen. Hagel states explicitly that he was forced to write the letters precisely because the Bush Administration was not merely unresponsive even to Republican Senators and Representatives—Bush / Cheney / Rumsfeld had cut them out of the conversation entirely. They weren’t even speaking to legislators on key issues, never mind being responsive or accountable.
    So Sen. Hagel had no choice but to write those letters, if he wanted to be heard at all. And he needed to document his views, so an acccurate post-mortem on the Bush/Cheney when the time comes.
    More of them should’ve been made public, but the country needed Hagel to voice his objections to the damaging nature of Bush’s military and foreign policy—it’s what we all were thinking, it was the elephant in the room—and remaining silence would’ve allowed Bush / Republicans to pretend no one knew.
    The upshot, though, is an unacceptable failure on the part of Senators and Reps, whether Republican and Democratic. Hagel notes the Congress had ceased to function like a co-equal branch of government. And that’s on Chuck Hagel and on John Kerry. (& peers) Seems to me there had to be a way, for there was an imperative, to break through the Senate’s impasse and call the Executive Branch to account. At least on policy grounds.
    My respect for Chuck Hagel is sky-high, given what I thought when he walked in lockstep and what little his colleagues have done. At the same time, among his peers, there’s been a lotta sitting on their hinders while the country slides deeper into crises and inflates its vulnerability on the world stage. If it took making a big, fat stink to break the ‘Gang of 14’ ‘s Gringrichian shutdown of Senate function, that would’ve been highly beneficial. The comfort and dignity of those unresponsive to their fellow elected officials should’ve been dead last on their list of concerns. Nothing changes that.


  8. questions says:

    Partisan identity dies hard either because of deep felt belief or because of rational calculation about one’s future. If Hagel breaks with the Reps, he needs a sure Dem future or he needs to exit the stage completely. And he would have to deal with internal feelings of apostasy if applicable. Should he break, he should endorse the Dem Congr candidate from Omaha, Jim Esch.
    I’d be pretty surprised if there is a Repub. in Obama’s cabinet (if Obama wins, that is). He could have non-cabinet advisers across party, but the debts for victory likely demand Dems, and there are crowds of hungry 8-year exiles to feed.
    annjell, gas and oil prices are only partly related. Oil has to be refined, and refinery capacity is a big part of gasoline prices. Also, there’s a noted pattern of prices’ going up faster than they come back down–something about making money.


  9. annjell says:

    I’m in Southern California, gas here is $3.20 a gallon.
    I’d like to know why gas is still over $3 a gallon when oil is below $80.
    Now, if I’m not mistaken, everyone was told that gas was over $3 a gallon when oil was selling over $100.
    Can we get a break here in California?


  10. chopper says:

    Where was Hagel’s leadership in the runup to Iraq, when we were being lied to?
    Rubberstamping the lies. He didn’t come out against Iraq until well after the populace had turned against it, and it was politically safe to do so.
    Stop rewarding political cowardice and lack of leadership. The very last thing Obama needs to do, if he wins the election, is to fall into the old trap of trying to build “legitimacy” by giving prime leadership positions to conservatives like Hagel.
    There are plenty of well-qualified Dems and Progressives that can make up an Obama cabinet. People who weren’t wrong on issues like Iraq, and weren’t neocon enablers like Chuck Hagel.


  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Hate to repeatedly bring it up everytime Steve sends a nod in Hagel’s direction, but Hagel’s actions in regards to ES&S were unquestionably unethical, most probably illegal, and puts him in the category of just another P of S politician that considers himself above the law.


  12. mlsnet says:

    As Steve likes to point out, this is his blog and he can do whatever he wants with it, but this over the top Hagel worship is getting old.
    If Hagel doesn’t believe McCain is the right choice, why doesn’t he get off his kister and endorse Obama instead of playing this Hamlet game? As other commentators have pointed out, Hagel’s votes on Iraq have failed to match his rhetoric. He seems to prefer keeping all his political options open — which is fine, but let’s not characterize him as the wisest of Washington men then.


  13. chophouse says:

    Agree with MarkL and then, only very warily. Despite all his righteous-sounding talk when it comes time to vote – to publicly declare a position – Hagel almost always votes the Republican Party line. Watch what they do, not what they say!!


  14. MarkL says:

    The principle Hagel has adhered to above all in the last 8 years is party loyalty in his voting.
    A very admirable trait, if you approve of the course Bush has charted.
    I think if Hagel officially switched parties, he could serve with Obama; otherwise, don’t trust him.


  15. Carroll says:

    “In almost every chapter of Chuck’s life, there is this theme of sticking to principles, almost to a fault. He’s been willing to sacrifice friendships, business partners, women along the way that he dated. If he feels that a relationship threatens his principles, or his sense of what’s right, or something that needs to be done, he will cut that relationship off, fairly cleanly, and move on.”
    “Critics have suggested that McCain’s League of Democracies could diminish the role of the United Nations. When I mentioned this to Hagel, he said, “What is the point of the United Nations? The whole point, as anyone who has taken any history knows, was to bring all nations of the world together in some kind of imperfect body, a forum that allows all governments of the world, regardless of what kinds of government, to work through their problems—versus attacking each other and going to war. Now, in John’s League of Democracies, does that mean Saudi Arabia is out? Does that mean our friend King Abdullah in Jordan is out? It would be only democracies. Well, we’ve got a lot of allies and relationships that are pretty important to us, and to our interests, who would be out of that club. And the way John would probably see China and Russia, they wouldn’t be in it, either. So it would be an interesting Book-of-the-Month Club”
    Obviously Hagel and I were seperated at birth and one of us was put up for adoption. Hagel saw he was on the slippery slope and got off. I am going to be very pissed if Obama doesn’t make him Sec. of State.


  16. Don Bacon says:

    Hagel: “We [Congress] were not a co-equal branch of government. We were just kind of this afterthought to the President, and whatever he tells us to do, we kind of docilely go along.”
    Bush gets blamed for the morass but, as Hagel recognizes, and takes partial blame for, the Congress was fully complicit.
    But still he’s wrong. There is nothing in the Constitution that prescribes co-equal branches. The Congress, with its powers fully described in Article I, is obviously meant to be the paramount branch, not only for domestic affairs but also for foreign affairs.
    Until the Congress reins in the unitary executive, and executive privileges, the US will continue to have major foreign policy problems. An example is the current “SOFA” negotiations between Bush and Iraq, with Bush keeping Congress in the dark and Maliki having to deal with his parliament. And they hate us for our freedom!


  17. Andrew Rice for Senate says:

    How is the Andrew Rice race for Senate looking out there?


  18. DavidT says:

    Hey Steve,
    Thanks for alerting us to the Hagel profile.
    He sounds like quite a mensch.I find his distancing himself from McCain’s views particularly admirable and unusual in a politician since such an approach was probably not in his best interests and because he was so friendly with McCain.
    What I wonder, however, is whether these mensch-like qualities don’t suggest potential great flaws as Secretary of State. Adhering to principles is very important. But they sometimes have to bent in the furtherance of some efforts. His moral rectitude reminds one a bit of Cyrus Vance. And as terrific a human being as Vance was, was he such a great Secretary of State?
    Another example that might raise questions regarding his effectiveness would be James Baker. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is reviled by many partisans for his role in the resolution of the 2000 election. However were not some of the qualities he displayed in that role (by taking it on in the first place and playing for keeps when it mattered to his side) not qualities that contributed to his success as Secretary of State? Would Hagel not be too principled to take on such a task?
    Curious what you think.


  19. Mr.Murder says:

    The bombing of a house in Syria is an effort to widen the war. There goes the oil leveling, flushed down the crapper.
    Anyone care to discuss the policy directives thaty shaped the attack into Syria?
    Got oil futures?


  20. daCascadian says:

    Good read & thanks for the reference. Dangerous times these are.
    “War is the easy part” – Anthony Zinni


  21. Karl says:

    Oh please, I prefer the term night owl 😉
    Great profile of Hagel. I think he’ll make a fantastic member of Obama’s administration or if not a important out of government adviser.
    I would like to know where he stands on DADT though, yes it is just one issue but it’s going to come up and Hagel has not exactly compiled a pro-equality voting record overall.


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