Tuesday, November 11, 2008

He might have been their only shot

Close to two years ago, on this blog, I predicted that Chuck Hagel would be the next president. Of course, I was wrong -- and I couldn't be happier about the actual outcome.

But Hagel, a two-term US Senator from Nebraska who is stepping down when his term expires in January, is an honest, intelligent and decent fellow. He is a Republican that Democrats almost universally respect, if not agree with.

Recently The New Yorker magazine ran a profile on Hagel, an outspoken critic of the Bush Administration's shortcomings in Iraq and elsewhere. Because of widespread disagreement with Senate colleague John McCain's approach to foreign policy, Hagel would not endore his friend and fellow Vietnam veteran for the presidency. In fact, Hagel accompanied Barack Obama on his trip to Iraq during the campaign and has been mentioned in discussions of the new president's cabinet.

In the magazine article, by staff writer Connie Bruck, Hagel tells a story that, I think, reinforces the view that many people have of George Bush's presidency:
During the Clinton Administration, [Hagel] began writing letters to the President on foreign-policy issues of signal importance. “Clinton used to call me and we’d discuss it, or he’d ask me to come talk with him,” Hagel recalled. In the past eight years, he has written to Bush a number of times, including, most recently, letters about Russia and Iran. But he said that he has never received a response from the President.
From day one, Bush & Co. knew it all. Why would they seek advice or listen to the opinions of others?

Bruck writes, "In some ways, Hagel is far more of a maverick than McCain has ever been..." It's true, and it is why I thought that the winner of two Purple Hearts from rural Nebraska who spoke the truth about America's occupation of Iraq would have been a logical choice as the GOP nominee, and he might have been the only shot they had in the general election. Hagel decided not to run because he knew he'd never get his party's nomination. Honesty and reality are not valued among the modern Republican Party.


acf said...

It makes you wonder how Hagel managed to survive in this Republican party.

Mary said...

One can be a member of a particular political party and still manage to be an enigma to other members of that party. I, for one, am proud to call myself a Democrat. However, I enjoy going against the grain when it's important to do so. It must be awfully boring to remain static and unyielding to new ideas, especially when those very ideas could serve to move the party forward in positive ways. Speaking truth to power is a needed ability in the political arena. It is a great leader, indeed, who will accept that kind of truth and not simply acquiesce to the power establishment's way of thinking. George Bush did not understand that and look at his disapproval ratings. Barack Obama appears to be a man given to great contemplative exercises before making important decisions. I am confident that he will listen to advisers within his own party and to those from other political leanings. At the same time, I am convinced that Obama will not hesitate to make a necessary quick and prudent decision when it is important to do so. I am looking forward to the next four years of his administration. January 20, 2009 can't come soon enough.