CHUCK HAGEL-- A GQ KINDA GUY?
Sure... why not? But he's certainly not a Blue America kind of guy. Chuck Hagel is a far right Republican who has rubber stamped virtually every stinking turd the Bush Regime has sent careening down the pike-- even when he's spoken out against one or two. Look at that voting record; it's more reactionary that Tom Coburn's, Kay Bailey Hutchison's or Thad Cochran's-- and there are only 23 senators with worse records.
But people who haven't been paying close attention only know Hagel because of his vocal opposition to Bush's Iraq policy-- although, I want to point out that when it came to voting in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he voted against Chris Dodd's bill (the one with teeth) and just joined Biden on the contemptible nonbinding, symbolic thing. Many have forgotten that Hagel's first senate election was a dress rehearsal for GOP vote theft on a grand scale.
The Wil Hylton interview in the new GQ starts out by drawing a clear demarcation between a fake, hyped-up war hero (McCain) and the real thing (Hagel): "As an infantryman, he had not bombed from above or commanded from behind; he had stood knee-deep in the muck, face-to-face with the enemy, firing on men and watching them die." And, far more important, another clear demarcation from phony-baloney McCain: "Even after four decades and a lifetime of change-- a fortune earned in the investment-banking business; a decade as a senator from Nebraska; and a position as one of the GOP’s conservative torchbearers with a shot at the White House-- Hagel has put everything on the line to oppose the war in Iraq, refusing to send a 'surge' of new troops into battle, or to forget the lessons he brought home from the killing fields long ago."
McCain and Hagel both realize they were badly deceived by Bush. I'd say most Republican senators realize that now. Unlike McCain, Hagel has chosen an open and public break with the Regime over it-- a stronger break in some ways than many of the centrist Democrats in the Senate. The far right of the GOP base is apoplectic and the swiftboaters are revving up their engines
Hagel's analysis of the Bush Regime is absolutely devastating. The far right blogosphere loathes him even beyond their much ballyhooed contempt for McCain and a cross-dresser who supports choice and gay marriage. Hagel, for all his flaws-- and they are flaws that make him completely unfit for higher office-- is speaking out more plainly and more forcefully than almost any Democrats. Most Democratic voters hear him speaking about Iraq and then hear Hillary or Obama, let alone Biden, and they hear from Hagel a message infinitely closer to their own feelings.
Why do you oppose the “surge”?
For almost four years, this administration has been saying, “Just give us another six months. Give us more time. The Iraqis need more help. We need more troops. We need more money.” I am not willing to sacrifice more young men and women for a policy that isn't working.
What do you think the real effect of the “surge” would be?
More American lives lost. Billions of dollars going into this hole. It will erode our standing in the Middle East and the world. It will destroy our force structure. It will divide this country in a bitter way not seen since Vietnam. And what do we get in return? The administration likes to point to these benchmarks—the Iraqis wrote a constitution, they had an election, they elected a unity government. The administration takes great pride in saying, “It's now a sovereign nation. They're in charge of their own affairs.” It's completely untrue, but they say it anyway.
What would it take to secure Baghdad?
It's not ours to secure. We have never understood that! We have framed this in a way that never made sense: “Win or lose in Iraq.” Wait a minute! There is no win or loss for us. The Iraqis will determine how this turns out. We can help them with our blood and our treasure and our standing, but in the end they have to deal with the sectarian problems. That is what's consuming that country. It's not Al Qaeda. It's not the terrorists. That's not the main problem over there. It's a civil war!
Democratic senators are still tip-toeing around "civil war;" Hagel is screaming it from the rooftops. One of the worst and most reprehensible shills in the Democratic Party, DLC Chair Harold Ford learned nothing from the fact that every single hot senate race was won by the Democrat except one-- his own. Today he was using the old Inside-the-Beltway canard: "Democrats aren't going to win if we are perceived as the anti-war or anti-national security party." Ford lost; Sherrod Brown won. Sheldon Whitehouse won. Bernie Sanders won. John Tester won. Claire McCaskill won. Amy Klobuchar won. Jim Webb won. Did I already mention that Harold Ford lost and that Harold Ford is a loser, a loser whose outsized ego makes him utterly incapable of learning from his mistakes? Meanwhile Hagel derides that Republican end of the same mindset as the DLC's: " They won't call it civil war. Everybody calls it a civil war! Of course it's a civil war. The generals call it a civil war. And it's even worse than a civil war... We can't solve that!"
And Hagel even calls out his own party, even the congressional end of it, for shirking its responsibility. (In all fairness, I'd like to point out that many in the Democratic Party have been just as supine before Bush as the Republicans-- and for a lot less reason.) "We've abdicated our responsibilities. That has to do with the fact that the Republican Party controlled the White House, the House, and the Senate. When that happens, you get no probing, no questioning, no oversight." He sounds like our anti-Republican campaign theme song from last year! And he doesn't stop there! He's frank about admitting that the Regime doctored everything. "All this stuff was doctored. Absolutely. But that's what we were presented with. And I'm not dismissing our responsibility to look into the thing, because there were senators who said, “I don't believe them.” But I was told by the president-- we all were-- that he would exhaust every diplomatic effort."
During the course of the interview he makes it clear that Bush, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld were all consciously lying to him and deceiving Congress. His conclusions ultimately lead only one place: impeachment.
Does it seem like the president is basically daring you to cut funding?
He is. He feels, as I think a number of Republicans do, that it would be a disastrous thing politically. These are bright people. They understand politics about as well as anyone. President Bush has been elected twice. Some might argue that he wasn't elected the first time. With the popular vote, he actually wasn't. But he's very savvy politically. He's never going to stand for election again, and he believes this is right for the country. The president is trying to do something very difficult: sustain a war without the support of the American people.
Does this sound like a Republican talking? "Look, it has not gone unnoticed that President Bush served a little time in the National Guard. Secretary Rice never served. Wolfowitz never served. Feith never served. Cheney had five deferments. Rumsfeld might have done something at one time. But the only guy that had any real experience was Colin Powell. And they cut him off. That's just a fact. That's not subjective. That's the way it was." It doesn't even sound like a Democrat-- at least not for the record. It sounds like Bob Fertik.
I'm reading this to Jane as I'm typing and she asked me what Hagel is thinking. What's his objective? Hylton asked him the same thing. Is it strange for you to be allied on these issues with the anti-war left, which is not exactly your constituency?
"I think these issues are starting to redefine the political landscape. You are going to see alliances and relationships develop that are based on this war. You are going to see a reorientation of political parties... We are living through one of the most transformative periods in history. If we are going to make it, we need a far greater appreciation and respect for others, or we're going to blow up mankind. Look at what zealotry can do. Religious zealotry has been responsible for killing more people than any other thing. Look at the Middle East today. It's all about religion. We need to move past those divisions and learn to be tolerant and respectful. If we go out there full of intolerance and hatred, we'll never make it."
He also said he doesn't care if gays want to marry each other. It doesn't sound like he's running for the Republican nomination. An independent run? To the left of Hillary?
UPDATE: ANOTHER GOP SENATOR WANTS BUSH TO GET SOMEONE TO READ HIM THE CONSTITUTION
Today Arlen Specter, the remaining Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, directly challenged Bush's declaration that "I am the decision-maker" on issues of war. Specter was polite but kind of blunt in pointing out that Bush knows less about the U.S. government than a junior high school student who took a civics class. "I would suggest respectfully to the president that he is not the sole decider. The decider is a shared and joint responsibility."