Senator Hagel: Don’t Quit Now

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hagel.jpg
In mid-August, I was flying off to participate in the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue. I was catching an 8 am flight at Dulles Airport and for whatever reason was being escorted to the front of some very long security lines and was given the red carpet treatment by TSA. I have no idea why. I thought that perhaps someone had mistaken me as David Letterman’s brother again — which actually happened once and got me into a restricted but cool night club.
But standing a few layers back in the long line was Chuck Hagel, dressed in a starched shirt and crisp suit and tie. I said howdy to him — and despite my unshaven state after hiking and camping for a week in the Cascades and wearing jeans and a t-shirt, Hagel was effusive, energetic, real. We chatted about Iran, Iraq, and the general wreck that had become American foreign policy.
And despite my nudge, he would not get out of that long line he was in, though I tried to encourage him to just take my place as the real VIP, since TSA had clearly made a mistake on me.
Hagel told me he was flying off to participate in a forum organized by former Clinton chief-of-staff Leon Panetta, and I read about his comments later in the news.
The word is slowly leaking out that not only is Chuck Hagel not going to run for President — but he’s not going to run for the Senate again in 2008. I’m not sure this is the final word, but Hagel is getting ready to make an announcement either this next Saturday or the one following — and all indicators are that he is going to depart an institution that very much still needs his conscience and sensibilities.
Dems are already readying New School President and former Senator Bob Kerrey to run. I don’t want to comment on Kerrey right now. I’ve worked with him, and suffice it say that we each survived the experience. He’s tough-minded, iconoclastic, and ruthlessly political in a good sense — traits I admire.
But this isn’t about Kerrey. It’s about Hagel.
Chuck Hagel is the kind of Republican that would would bring health back to American politics. He’s a Republican conservative — no doubt about it. But he’s the kind of Republican who respects the views of Democrats. He’ll compete with them, but respect them. He’s not about a hyperventilating right that rules by assertion and Cheney/Rove “50% + 1” delusions.
Hagel — like John Warner — both have a great deal of concern for the state of the military today. So does Senator Jack Reid who served in the military. All of the presidential candidates are speaking about the need to restore our military so that its capabilities and morale don’t erode further — but Hagel, Warner, Reid, McCain, Webb — these folks have different inroads to understanding the plight of service people and the military system today.
Hagel was the boldest in my view in fighting George W. Bush on the war. Republicans and Democrats need his kind of logic and leadership — and it would be a terrible shame for him to leave the Senate.
I think he may leave anyway. But he shouldn’t. He should rethink his views on this as he’s not talking to the right people.
More on what he might do in his next life later — but in the mean time, i just want to post an open admonishment to him for these rumors that he might end his tenure.
Hagel has been a terrific national leader in my view — and leaving now reduces our ability to correct the many, many problems in our national security and foreign policy portfolios after the Bush administration finally is brought to an end. He should stay where he is and should partner with the next President and the next raft of Senators and Congressman in undoing the damage done.

— Steve Clemons

Comments

42 comments on “Senator Hagel: Don’t Quit Now

  1. Jay Wilson says:

    Steve, “inroads to understanding” doesn’t quite mean what you think it does. The word, “inroads” frequently is used to mean a lessening or erosion of something rather than an ‘insight’ or insider view of something. ( old English teacher) JW

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  2. susan says:

    “…what… has him slinking for the escape hatch?”
    Actually, I think he has a primary problem. There is much speculation that he could not survive one.
    Let his seat go to a Dem!

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  3. MarkL says:

    Earlier I asked about Hagel and global warming.
    I should have known.. Hagel has been in the forefront of calling for action on global warming for a decade. There’s one thing to praise him for.

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  4. PissedOffCitizen says:

    “It was reported that Hagel failed to mention his financial ties to ES&S on his Senate disclosure form, an omission that drew interest from the Senate Ethics Committee.”
    I have brought up Hagel’s connection to this company, and Hagel’s failure to disclose his financial interests as required by law, on numerous occassions, in fact, every time Steve sings his praises for Hagel. And not one single time has Steve ever commented on the issue, NOT ONCE. To consistently laud the performance of a politician, while ignoring very real and documented past conduct that calls the integrity of that politician into question, seems nothing more than standard political salesmanship, done in return for favors or fees. Steve abhors such accusations, and becomes quite upset when they are levied. But his refusal to engage us in our questioning of some of his endorsements can easily give such an accusation credence.
    I respect Steve, and value his insights, but silence does not defend endorsements, nor does silence erase history. Steve would be well served by directly engaging his readers, and answering their queries into the reasoning, and motives, behind his endorsements.
    Personally, I wonder at Hagel’s exit. From possible Presidential hopeful to retiring from the Senate, in less than a year.
    His anti-war stance surely made him some powerful enemies. What chits did they call in, or what history did they threaten to expose, that has him slinking for the escape hatch?

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  5. susan says:

    That beacon of independence and integrity, Chuck Hagel, is calling it quits. He won’t run for Senate re election or for the White House.
    Given his special relationship with the machines that tally the votes, one would think that he could continue “winning” any election he chooses to enter.
    It will be interesting to see where he lands next. Maybe Steve has a job in mind for him.
    “Hagel was and is a current shareholder in McCarthy Group Inc. of Omaha, whose portfolio includes Election Systems and Software Inc. Before his 1996 election to the Senate, Hagel was president of McCarthy and Co.
    As late as 1995, Hagel was the chairman of a Nebraska electronic voting machine maker, American Information Systems, which was renamed ES&S in 1997.
    It was reported that Hagel failed to mention his financial ties to ES&S on his Senate disclosure form, an omission that drew interest from the Senate Ethics Committee.
    Hagel’s 1996 run for the Senate left him with not one, but two underdog victories, defeating Don Stenberg in the primary and Democratic Gov. Ben Nelson. Both of his opponents had solid, consistent leads in the polls up until Election Day.
    ES&S claims to have counted 56% of the vote in the last four presidential elections…”

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  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Clemons’ testimonial for Hagel reads like that of a professor’s glowing recommendation of a mediocre student. Lots of assertions that “he is great” but not one specific instance of where he actually did something meaningful or showed some courage.”
    Thats nuthin’, man, you oughta see him sing his Reid praises!

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  7. Arun says:

    Clemons’ testimonial for Hagel reads like that of a professor’s glowing recommendation of a mediocre student. Lots of assertions that “he is great” but not one specific instance of where he actually did something meaningful or showed some courage.
    Remember, it is not necessary for the act to made a difference; e.g., Feingold’s lonely vote against the Patriot Act is tremendously impressive though fruitless.
    The faster Hagel leaves public life, the safer it is to sing encomiums of him, too.
    I wish Clemons was more sensitive to the fact that after being led into disaster by Bush, Cheney, Powell’s assertions (and even they bothered to point to specific instances, however erroneous, such as the Niger uranium or bioweapons trailers) about Iraq, people are in no mood to accept anything based on assertion.
    Tell us something, anything, such as “Hagel got some really objectionable stuff in this bill replaced by this less objectional stuff”, or “Hagel engineered this compromise whereby we got a better something than we would have had otherwise”, or “he came up with this great idea” – something, anything!
    Otherwise, admit the endorsement is utterly vacuous. Hell, after two hours of seeing my Congressman Rush Holt in a public meeting, I can say more concrete stuff about him than Steve Clemons has said about Hagel in so many posts and so much witnessing of him.

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  8. Frank says:

    Someone wrote:
    “Few people know their own good, or knowing it pursue”.
    Hagel knew, but did not pursue.
    Fools are forgiven; the likes of Hagel are in the class of the Powells, the Lugars, and the Warners who could have done the country good in needful times but did nothing but deliver herniated talk.
    Never have so many respected public republican servants missed so many opportunities in being labled a statesman in the history books.
    Indeed, there is a need for the book “Profiles of Courage”.

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  9. LongTom says:

    No politician with a shred of decency or self-respect could put an “R” next to their name. There’s no such thing as a good Republican. Period. That’s not to say that all Democrats are good. But I could no more respect an officeholder who accepts the label “Republican” than one who calls themselves “Nazi.”
    The Republican party has completely degenerated over the past 40 years into a straight-out criminal enterprise. Hagel, like other so-called moderates, merely serves to lend an air of respectability to a gang of degenerate thugs that should be imprisoned. By participating in that enterprise and enabling it, he connives in their immorality and criminality.

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  10. konopelli/wgg says:

    One can never underestimate the importance of owning the machines that tabulate the votes.
    Posted by: susan at September 5, 2007 10:38 PM ”
    Real-politik, a la Joe Stalin: “It doesn’t matter who votes, or how; what matters is who COUNTS the votes.”

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  11. Jim says:

    Not to beat this thing to death, but I’m not hostile, I’m genuinely curious.
    You say you want Hagel to run for president, but if he can’t persuade people like Olympia Snowe, Chuck Grassley and John Warner to do what (I very strongly suspect) they both want to do, and believe is the right thing to do (yeah, I’m committing long distance mind-reading), where, exactly, is the evidence of his leadership? Who has followed him? Hell, how is he going to convince the people in his own party who think the Surge is “a huge success” (Chris Shays) to start acting like (to be perfectly blunt) grown ups?
    I didn’t say your support of him “baffles me” as a put-down, my confusion is sincere. No, I don’t spend any time in the Senate (never even been to DC), but I spend a lot of time, more than is healthy to my real work, following politics, and I just don’t see any evidence of Hagel’s effectiveness (not since he and Biden rewrote and narrowed the AUMF five years ago, at any rate).

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  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “How **exactly** has Sen Hagel been such a bold antagonist in leading the charge against George W. Bush on the war?”
    Hehehe…..
    You actually expect an answer?

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  13. bob h says:

    The important thing now is a 60 vote majority to shut off Republican filibusters, and I would be very happy to see Hagel quit in favor of Kerrey.

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  14. Homer says:

    Again, I must ask…..
    How **exactly** has Sen Hagel been such a bold antagonist in leading the charge against George W. Bush on the war?
    In Iraq, what has ***tangibly manifested*** as a result of Sen Hagel being a bold antagonist leading the charge against George W. Bush on the war?
    I am ready to learn.

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  15. Lee Mortimer says:

    It does seem likely Chuck Hagel will announce soon that he’s not running for re-election to the Senate. But it’s much less certain that he’s “not going to run for president.” Hagel has to reveal his Senate intentions soon in fairness to those who would like to succeed him and need to present themselves in a GOP primary in Nebraska. He’d only have to move now if he’s going to run for the Republican nomination for president. That’s off the table as there seems to be no room for an Iraq war critic in the GOP primary. Hagel’s real option is to run as an independent or third party candidate. And the best time to launch that will be in early February after the Democrats and Republicans have nailed down their respective nominations and the country sets in to nine months of buyer’s remorse. That’s when we’re likely to see the launching of a Bloomberg-Hagel (or hopefully Hagel-Bloomberg) campaign, very possibly under the banner of Unity08.

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  16. Azor says:

    I could not agree more! Hagel’s clear thinking and stubborn determination will be sorely missed in the Senate. Yes, he is a conservative, and yes, many of his votes make me cringe. But he is an honest, principled and intelligent man, a worthy voice. I know the chances seem slim, but I hope he will eventually decide to run for his Senate seat, as a republican or independent.
    Steve: maybe you can email him a link to this page?

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  17. MarkL says:

    Steambomb,
    I want to take a closer look at Dodd.
    I’m not comfortable with HRC on foreign policy, although I happen to believe her domestic policy would be excellent. I don’t think Obama is anything special—yet, and Edwards doesn’t impress me.
    Dodd and Richardson—despite his foot in mouth problem—are the ones left for me.
    I suppose I should give Kucinich a second look too.

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  18. Warren Zymphonic says:

    Hagel offers wise counsel and prescient views. His being Republican is more than irrelevant. Hagel is EXACTLY what America needs at present.

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  19. Renee says:

    Reading through the comments, I don’t think people appreciate the fine line Hagel walked in his Senate career between being a loyal conservative Republican, and and at the same time disagreeing with his President and party on some of our most pressing issues. It seems to me that people on this site and elsewhere have unrealistic expectations of him, considering his party affiliation–as if a conservative Republican from Nebraska is going to suddenly vote consistently like Russ Feingold or Chris Dodd. Folks, he wouldn’t have had a prayer of re-election that way–he DOES have a very red constituency to serve. Why not appreciate him for what he is–obviously not a Democrat, but a man of reason and principle from across the aisle. I have no idea why he doesn’t run for President, though.

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  20. rollingmyeyes says:

    The grand struggle to end the war has the opponents locked in combat. This is when it counts. Where is Hagel now?

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  21. Carroll says:

    Damn, this is not good.
    If there was ever a time we needed someone with a grip on foreign policy it is now.
    Say what you will about Hagel’s voting record, he has been bold in speaking out about what US policy should be…and furthermore he is right.
    I don’t get those whose first concern isn’t our screwed up foreign policy and the US’s lost reputation. Global warming, health care and all the other issues are nothing but pie in the sky if we continue our current course.

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  22. Bill R. says:

    I would imagine that Hagel is leaving the Senate as a Repubican because the Republican party has no room for him or his stance as a conservative with intelligence and integrity. There’s no room for anyone like that in the Republican party. Just have a look at what happened in the GOP debate this evening. Utter delusion and dishonesty.

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  23. steambomb says:

    The bigger question is “Is Hagel the kind of republican that will respect the constitution?”
    I couldn’t care less what he thinks about democrats or their oppinions.
    DOES HE RESPECT THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.
    Dodd has said that immediately when he enters the white house when elected president he will restore the constitution and our civil liberties.
    THAT is why I am voting for Dodd.

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  24. Homer says:

    SC: Hagel was the boldest in my view in fighting George W. Bush on the war.
    If Hagel has been such a bold antagonist, leading the charge against George W. Bush on the war, why is Bruce Fein loudly and unequivocally calling for the impeachment of VP Cheney?
    Impeach Cheney
    The vice president has run utterly amok and must be stopped.
    Under Dick Cheney, the office of the vice president has been transformed from a tiny acorn into an unprecedented giant oak. In grasping and exercising presidential powers, Cheney has dulled political accountability and concocted theories for evading the law and Constitution that would have embarrassed King George III. The most recent invention we know of is the vice president’s insistence that an executive order governing the handling of classified information in the executive branch does not reach his office because he also serves as president of the Senate. In other words, the vice president is a unique legislative-executive creature standing above and beyond the Constitution. The House judiciary committee should commence an impeachment inquiry. As Alexander Hamilton advised in the Federalist Papers, an impeachable offense is a political crime against the nation. Cheney’s multiple crimes against the Constitution clearly qualify.
    http://slate.com/id/2169292

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  25. Homer says:

    SC: For those of you who didn’t witness Hagel’s leadership in various of the Iraq battles or in key votes on Gonzales, I’m sorry — we disagree.
    Could you please share what you witnessed so that we can know exactly what we may or may not disagree upon?
    Could you please adduce Hagel’s voting record that clearly shows the exact manner by which Hagel has been fighting George W. Bush on the war?

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  26. PissedOffAmerican says:

    One other note about Hagel’s ES&S dealings. He did not disclose his interests in this company, as required by law. Yet one more elite Washington denizen that does not have to hold themselves accountable to the same laws us little people do. Screw ‘im.
    BTW, Steve, Hagel voted to give Gonzales MORE power, not less.

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  27. susan says:

    “One can never underestimate the importance of owning the machines that tabulate the votes.”
    That should be overestimate.
    In any event, Chuck Hagel is much like Arlen Spector: more of a compliant pet than resolute maverick. His voting record is one of the most conservative in the Senate. He has worked with the President on immigration reform, Social Security reform, climate change, and tax and spending issues, and he’s a tool of big business.
    The term mock maverick describes him well.
    If you want to get behind a maverick, Steve, why not Russ Feingold?
    Gore/Feingold would be my idea of a dream ticket.

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  28. matt says:

    steve, i enjoy your insight on most issues, but i just don’t get your defense of hagel. he has had multiple opportunities to do something: vote against the reckless policies of the administration. he has consistently passed up these opportunities in favor of tough talk followed by votes in support of the same policies he criticized just days earlier.
    if he’s so brave, wouldn’t voting the right way come in the bargain?

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  29. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks Elizabeth — Believe me, I was shocked too by the surprising treatment at Dulles. I think I was mistaken somehow for someone — and I looked like crap after having been on a camping trip, just returning the day before…. But given the number of times I have been completely screwed up in my travel because of those lines, I wasn’t too upset about it.
    Listen — to POA and others who have problem with America’s elected representatives. I have problems with many too. I disagree with Hillary Clinton for instance on Israel/Palestine and Cuba — but find other areas of agreement. I liked her fundraising appeal the other day and got skewered by readers here (and emails) about that — but I call them as I see them.
    I used to work in the Senate and have been around some real monsters there. People who did not have an ethical compass in my view. And some who were ethical were sometimes committed to monstrous policies.
    But occasionally there are leaders who just stand above the rest. For those of you who didn’t witness Hagel’s leadership in various of the Iraq battles or in key votes on Gonzales, I’m sorry — we disagree. I spend a lot of time in the Senate, and one gets a sense of who is there to do good things and who is there for other self-indulgent reasons. Hagel impresses me tremendously. I wanted him to run for president, but he’s not going to do it.
    I still believe that the first Democrat to adopt his general national security/foreign policy perspective will be the Democrat I want to fully support and the Democrat who may restore some order and bounce to our rotten foreign policy situation.
    But you are entitled to your views and I to mine.
    Be well,
    Steve Clemons

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  30. susan says:

    “These days American Citizens’ votes are tabulated…”
    By (among others) U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel(!) who was the head of, and continues to own part interest in, the company that owns the company that installed, programmed, and largely ran the voting machines that were used by most of the citizens of Nebraska.
    Back when Hagel first ran there for the U.S. Senate in 1996, his company’s computer-controlled voting machines showed he’d won stunning upsets in both the primaries and the general election. The Washington Post (1/13/1997) said Hagel’s “Senate victory against an incumbent Democratic governor was the major Republican upset in the November election.” According to Bev Harris of http://www.blackboxvoting.org, Hagel won virtually every demographic group, including many largely Black communities that had never before voted Republican. Hagel was the first Republican in 24 years to win a Senate seat in Nebraska.
    Six years later Hagel ran again, this time against Democrat Charlie Matulka in 2002, and won in a landslide. As his hagel.senate.gov website says, Hagel “was re-elected to his second term in the United States Senate on November 5, 2002 with 83% of the vote. That represents the biggest political victory in the history of Nebraska.”
    What Hagel’s website fails to disclose is that about 80 percent of those votes were counted by computer-controlled voting machines put in place by the company affiliated with Hagel. Built by that company. Programmed by that company.
    One can never underestimate the importance of owning the machines that tabulate the votes.

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  31. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I think the Republican Party is badly broken, and the country is the worse for it; and I think Chuck Hagel, a year ago, two years ago, at the moment of FISA, MCA, Alberto Gonzales, Hagel had a chance to take the lead among disaffected Republicans and independents and make a real difference.”
    Bingo. And he dropped the ball. And I have not seen him utter one peep about holding Bush and Cheney accountable. In fact, I suspect, rather than advocate accountability, he is slinking for the the exit, realizing the depth of the corruption, unwilling to participate in it, but too gutless to do anything about it.
    Adios Hagel, you coulda made a difference, and you didn’t. Ho hum.

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  32. Eli Rabett says:

    Sorry Hagel had his chances and simply ignored them.

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  33. easy e says:

    As we muse over Chuck Hagel, how about
    * those five nukes on that B-52
    http://noquarterusa.net/blog/2007/09/05/staging-nukes-for-iran/#more-817
    * or China dumping U.S. Treasuries (think ‘nuclear option’ of dollar sales)
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml;jsessionid=OFUSXC05QVVI1QFIQMFSFGGAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/money/2007/09/05/bcnchina105.xml
    Hmmmm…..anything to do with Iran?
    Wonder what Chuck Hagel thinks.

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  34. easy e says:

    As we muse over Chuck Hagel, how about
    * those five nukes on that B-52
    http://noquarterusa.net/blog/2007/09/05/staging-nukes-for-iran/#more-817
    * or China dumping U.S. Treasuries (think “nuclear option” of dollar sales)
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml;jsessionid=OFUSXC05QVVI1QFIQMFSFGGAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/money/2007/09/05/bcnchina105.xml
    Hmmmm……………anything to do with Iran?
    Wonder what Chuck Hagel thinks.

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  35. Homer says:

    SC: Hagel was the boldest in my view in fighting George W. Bush on the war. Republicans and Democrats need his kind of logic and leadership — and it would be a terrible shame for him to leave the Senate.
    Could you please adduce Hagel’s voting record that clearly shows the exact manner by which Hagel has been fighting George W. Bush on the war?
    Otherwise, I think it is quite clear that the debacle and humanitarian crises in Afganistan and Iraq belong also to Bush’s enabler Hagel.
    All incumbents that enable Bush should be voted out of office, or more crudely put, flushed away like the turds that they are.

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  36. arthurdecco says:

    If we ever needed proof of the paucity and bankruptcy of American “democracy”, here it is:
    “I very much hope that he doesn’t turn his seat over to former Senator Bob Kerrey…” posted by Steve Clemons
    Only in Amerika could you voice mild concern, (and then only in passing), that one politician could “turn over” his seat to another even more reprehensible member of his own political party.
    Only in Amerika could that comment pass unremarked by one of the supposed defenders of the country’s constitution and rule of law.
    U.S. citizens can’t possibly be that stupid. I have to ask myself what is it that convinces Voters to replace Vermin with Vermin II, the sequel?
    Wait now, I remember… Voters don’t actually vote for them, do they? It’s just that their votes are tabulated by self-interested private sector companies in cahoots with, and under the direction of the powerful.
    These days American Citizens’ votes are tabulated with no regard at all to how they actually voted to create the result sought by those in power. Of course this is only the final step in a comprehensive package of vile policies that disenfranchise as many progressive and liberal voters as possible before the vote is even contemplated.
    Only in Amerika.
    And the charade plays on…

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  37. Elizabeth says:

    Well, clearly I fly out of the wrong airport, both for the random VIP treatment and the people you meet in line. Still – the 3 hour hike to Dulles…
    If these rumors are true, I am disappointed. Chuck Hagel has an authenticity and strength of character soooo lacking in both parties. As a fairly liberal independent, I would welcome him as a candidate for President or in continuing in the Senate. Not only do I believe he could begin to repair our image and participation on the global stage, but his collaborative approach, even from a conservative position, could go far in bringing us back from the extremes and perhaps give us a presidency for all of the people, not just a “base”. Go figure. Keep up the persuasive admonishment, Steve. Thanks.

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  38. JohnH says:

    Steve, there you go again…

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  39. Jim says:

    “I’m not a partisan Dem….”
    The assumption being that only a knee-jerk partisan could disagree with you about Hagel?
    “This country needs balanced Republicans and Democrats — two sides that respect checks and balances in government”
    In principle, I agree, and ten years ago, I thought of myself as an independent–though I always voted for Democrats because of people like Gingrich, Delay and The Two Pats. It was hard for me to vote for Clinton in ’96, not because I disliked Clinton but because I always liked Bob Dole; but even then, the GOP was clearly not his party anymore. I used to have a great deal of admiration for Lugar, Warner, Snowe and the like (never had any use for Specter). I even, at one time, thought of Orrin Hatch as a man of principle. It was the Impeachment of the Clenis that finally soured me on the GOP in general, and it took George W Bush to turn me from mild Democrat to ‘partisan’. It’s precisely because of checks and balances that I don’t share your admiration of Hagel, as I said: FISA and the MCA. Hagel voted against the Constitution.
    I think the Republican Party is badly broken, and the country is the worse for it; and I think Chuck Hagel, a year ago, two years ago, at the moment of FISA, MCA, Alberto Gonzales, Hagel had a chance to take the lead among disaffected Republicans and independents and make a real difference. Publicly, loudly, boldly, not in committee meetings or think tank conferences or off the record conversations with reporters. He would have had to break David Broder’s china, and it might have cost him some friends, it might even have cost him his seat, probably would have, but now it looks like he’s walking away from it anyway.
    And I share your disdain for Bob Kerrey, though obviously not for the same reasons, as I’ve never met the man. But the last thing this country needs is a Joe Lieberman that Tim Russert and the Sabbath gasbags love more than they love the original.

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  40. Steve Clemons says:

    Sorry it baffles you Jim. We differ on Hagel who worked hard to matter in fundamental ways on the war — and who did help in several close “tilt” situations when the Dems needed him, and Liebarman was on the other side. This country needs balanced Republicans and Democrats — two sides that respect checks and balances in government, and I think Hagel has been that sort of political leader.
    I’m not a partisan Dem….in fact, I’m an independent who dislikes Bush greatly. Hagel earned my respect a long time ago (though he ticked me off a bit on John Bolton)…but still, he has my respect — and I very much hope that he doesn’t turn his seat over to former Senator Bob Kerrey — who I think will move to the far right of both Chuck Hagel and Ben Nelson when it comes to questions of war and peace.
    All the best,
    Steve Clemons

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  41. Jim says:

    Hagel was the boldest in my view in fighting George W. Bush on the war. Republicans and Democrats need his kind of logic and leadership — and it would be a terrible shame for him to leave the Senate.
    Maybe he was the “boldest” Republican fighting George W. Bush. But at 5 foot 9, I’m the “tallest” person in my family. Hagel has indeed been a more vocal critic of this war than alleged statesmen like Warner and Lugar, and supposed moderates like Snowe and Specter. It ain’t saying much.
    Given the muted quality of his “leadership” on this issue, and his (from everything I can see) unhesitating support for every unconstitutional step by the Bush Cheney administration, from the MCA to the FISA abomination just last month, your admiration for this man utterly baffles me.

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  42. MarkL says:

    Steve,
    I have one question about Hagel, and then a couple of comments; First, what is his position on global warming? Energy policy, energy security and global warming are my top areas for evaluating politicians these days. Despite all my other reservations about Hagel, if he were willing to strongly support programs to combat global warming, I’d like to keep him in the Senate.
    We have disagreed about the value of Hagel’s criticism of Bush’s foreign policy. As far as I’m concerned, his words on Iraq may be a footnote in some future history book, but his words have no consequence. In addition, I don’t see what useful role he has to play if a Democrat is elected President. Hopefully, Bush’s eternal commitment to stay in Iraq will end when HRC takes office. Does Hagel have something to say about Iraq that’s not being said by Democrats?
    By the way, I’m really curious to know if the Republicans will begin demanding withdrawal on Jan. 21, 2009. I think it’s possible that the GOP will try to co-opt the “withdraw now” mantle once the new Democratic President owns the war.

    Reply

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