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.