Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Update: Hagel's Flip-Flop Semi-Explained

by Kyle Michaelis
In today's Lincoln Journal-Star, Sen. Hagel discusses his sudden and unexplained change of heart in response to President Bush's proposal to use the National Guard to patrol the U.S.'s southern border.

As pointed out in my previous post, Hagel made quite the radical transition from serious doubts one day - shared with a national audience - to wholesale endorsement the next.
“My concerns have been answered,” Hagel said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

Guard troops will not be used for law enforcement, he said, and will provide support as part of their normal two-week training cycles. “They have to train anyway, and it makes some sense for them to be doing something at that time that we need.”

Hagel said he also was assured by the temporary one-year nature of the mission.

Wow, almost makes you believe in the power of the free press - except Hagel hasn't really answered any questions. For instance, does Hagel no longer believe the National Guard is being over-burdened? Or, for that matter, what assurances does he have that this mission will truly be temporary? If it's all a matter of faith in President Bush, that's not going to cut it with the American people....not anymore, not even in Nebraska.

Meanwhile, some would be surprised to see Hagel's more humble counterpart, Sen. Ben Nelson, emboldened and ready for battle, holding Bush responsible for the years of inaction on border control that have gotten us to this point.

Of course, if I had any faith in President Bush's ability to lead, I would take serious issue with Nelson's eagerness to put aside comprehensive immigration reforms and to focus on securing the border. If Bush had not spent the last six years backing down from any fight with the self-proclaimed king-makers on his party's extreme right-wing, I might be able to take his call for true reform seriously.

Sadly, that's unlikely to prove the case, meaning Nelson could well prove a visionary by long-ago recognizing the Congressional willpower is lacking for anything but the piecemeal compromise he's proposed. That's unfortunate, but - unless a groundswell of public support shakes Republicans in the House from their unthinking and insensitive demands - it may be the best for which we can least, if you want to see any action taken before November's elections.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kyle - you are right. Hagel gets away with a lame explanatin of his flip flop. Too bad. He ownes Nebraskans more than that.

As for hs concerns being addressed: maybe he doesn't understand the proposal Bush laid out. This isn't going to be two week vacations in the Sunny Southwest for Guard troops. Troops assigned to this mission will be deployed for up to one year - Bush never said he would use the troops for only one year as far as I can tell. He said they would be deployed for a year - then they get replaced by new troops.
So, some NE Guard members could do 18 months in Iraq, and if they survive they get to come home and face the possibility of spending another year away from their families while patroling our border because the president has failed to implement the modest border security measures already approved by Congress.

Hagel leaves folks with the impression that the 6000 troops will be there for two weeks and they need to train anyway. That is simply not the case.

Thanks Kyle for being the only NE writer to take Hagel to task for this inexplicable and irresponsible behavior.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guarding the border is not a hardship tour, and it would be very easy and sensible to have them do their 2 weeks on the border. Furthermore, it would be a lot easier to let a soldier go hojme for an emergency from the border than it would be from Iraq.

They aren't going to spend a year on the border.


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