Good Morning America's Martha Raddatz on Monday seemed perplexed as to why conservatives would oppose Chuck Hagel's nomination for Secretary of Defense. According to the journalist, one might think the former Republican senator is the "perfect choice," a man who "dared [to] speak out" against George W. Bush's troop surge in Iraq -- the same surge that candidate Obama later admitted had "succeeded beyond our wildest dreams."
Raddatz mentioned concern about Hagel's stance toward Israel, but didn't explain what his "controversial" votes were. Instead, she blurbed, "You might think that a Republican Vietnam veteran, former senator with all kinds of foreign policy experience would be the perfect choice to ease the rancor on Capitol Hill." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
That's how many Republicans are likely to react after retiring Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel blasted Republicans in general and Rush Limbaugh in particular, claiming Rush and fellow conservative talkers "don't have any answers."
David Shuster, subbing for Olbermann on tonight's Countdown, highlighted Hagel's remarks of today.
CBS News reporter Chip Reid, who was general counsel in 1987 for Joe Biden's short presidential run, on Thursday night, unlike his colleagues on ABC and NBC, highlighted how Republican Senator Chuck Hagel denigrated the qualifications of Biden's VP competitor, Sarah Palin. Reid concluded his CBS Evening News story by noting how “Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican, says it's a 'stretch' to say 'Sarah Palin is qualified to be President,'” and, with matching text on screen, Reid read how Hagel told the Omaha World-Herald: “You get a passport for the first time in your life last year?”
Reid did at least acknowledge that “Hagel has split with his party on a number of issues” (and, though Reid didn't get specific, traveled with Obama to the Middle East in August), but Reid saw Hagel as emblematic of wider concern, asserting “he's one of a number of prominent Republicans who have questioned whether Palin has enough experience in foreign policy.”
Did you know that we are reliving 1968 again? George W. Bush is like Lyndon B. Johnson, unpopular. Iraq is like Vietnam, unpopular. The civil rights movement is represented in Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton's historic candidacy parallels the women's movement. The energized youth voting in this primary is comparable to the college students protesting Vietnam in 1968. Well, that's what a program titled, "Something's Happening Here: Over the Last 40 Years, How Has the Presidential Election Changed?" on CNN told me.
It fascinates me that this news program so brazenly wants to suggest what is happening today is comparable to the turbulent times of 1960s. Also, they eagerly want to associate Iraq with Vietnam. It's almost if they want us to be more anxious about our current times. In fact Campbell Brown, the host, tells us in the beginning that we're an anxious nation just like in 1968. She says, "Now fast-forward 40 years. It is June 2008, another unpopular president, another unpopular war, anxiety and impatience, a new generation energized, all around the sense that we have reached a turning point. It's an election that could change the world." Really, we are anxious and impatient? What proof does she have of that?
Brown also takes a cue from Barack Obama's campaign motto when she describes this election as one that "could change the world. " We are living through the 1960s all over again so we need Barack Obama to come in and change things seems to be the basic theme of the show.
As accusations against Americans go, surely there's none more serious than that of responsibility for 9/11. Yet Maureen Dowd has seen fit to level just such a charge against Condi Rice en passant: as a simple afterthought, no explanation offered.
There I was this morning reading Maureen's musings on yesterday's hearings with Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. Pretty standard Dowd fare: a couple Shakespearean quotes pressed into service, a snippy sobriquet [dubbing Petraeus and Croker the "Surge Twins"], when suddenly came this [emphasis added]:
On Monday's "NBC Nightly News," correspondent Mike Taibbi oddly suggested that Barack Obama could be considered an "independent" or centrist politician as he included the liberal Senator as one of several politicians with an "independent streak" with whom New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been associated. Taibbi: "Bloomberg was a long-time Democrat, turned Republican mayor, turned Independent, who has kept company with others with an independent streak, from Senators Joe Lieberman and Barack Obama to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger." Such a juxtaposition seems especially out of place in light of National Journal's 2006 vote ratings which found that Obama had a more liberal voting record than all but nine of his Senate colleagues. (Transcript follows)
In an effort to have a fair and balanced debate on the issue of the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes, "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer invited Democratic Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller, and liberal Republican, Senator Chuck Hagel, on to Sunday’s broadcast. Hagel proved to be left of Rockefeller:
We are saying what to the world? That the Army Field Manual applies to our Army people, our armed services people, but the C.I.A. and all these Blackwater-type variations of militias and armies are unaccountable to what? That's not who we are as Americans, Bob. We're better than that. We don't need that. The world wants us to be better than that. We want to be better than that. We need to be smarter. Burning tapes, destroying evidence, I don't know how deep this goes. Could there be obstruction of justice? Yes. How far does this go up in the White House? I don't know.
That does not sound like an opinion from the mainstream of the Republican Party.
NBC's Meredith Vieira actually seemed disappointed that a Republican senator wasn't running for re-election, of course that Republican senator, Chuck Hagel, is a noted war-critic. On the Thursday "Today" show, a crestfallen Vieira asked the RINO: "Senator, very quickly now, this, this week you announced you that you are not running for any office in 2008. Why quit now, given how impassioned you are about this war?...But why did you decide not to run for president? That surprised a lot of people."
Just before the Hagel interview Vieira plugged NBC News's primetime coverage of the President's speech tonight but didn't exactly give it a hard sell as she wondered if anybody would even care: "Meanwhile we're gonna turn now to President Bush addressing the nation tonight about the future of U.S. troops in Iraq but his words may fall on deaf ears."
Persistent Bush critic and recurring Sunday morning talk show fixture Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) is announcing his retirement from the U.S. Senate. Reporting the story in the Sunday paper, the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman and Chris Cillizza described the Iraq war critic as a "mainstream conservative who raised his profile nationally through his fierce opposition to President Bush's Iraq policies."
While it is true that Hagel has a respectable 85.2 (out of a possible 100) lifetime score from the American Conservative Union, the Associated Press's Anna Jo Bratton more colorfully described the senator as "a thorn in his party's side when it comes to Iraq." The characterization is apt but perhaps a bit charitable given the retiring politician's suggestion that President Bush could be impeached over the war.
While both the Bratton and Post accounts focused on Hagel's retirement as another obstacle in the uphill battle for control of the Senate in 2008, neither article mentioned that Hagel made an oblique reference in March to the potential to impeach President George W. Bush over the Iraq war: