'Intellectual Dishonesty' at the Nebraska Republican Conventionby Kyle Michaelis
In a raw act of partisanship not at all keeping with Senate traditions, Chuck Hagel continued to lead the charge against his fellow Nebraska Senator. Hagel has even gone as far as likening Ricketts to himself, hoping to drum up support by drawing parallels to his winning race against then-Gov. Nelson 10 years ago.
The only problem with this "same rhetoric, different rich Republican" campaign strategy is that it now follows on the heels of 12 years of a Republican Congress and 6 years of a Republican presidency that have left even Nebraska Republicans worried at the direction of the country with no one left to blame but the leaders of their own party. In fact, the latest SurveyUSA tracking polls put Nelson 11 points ahead of Hagel with registered Republicans (69% to 58%) and 15 points ahead with Nebraskans in general (72% to 57%).
Still, here's the Omaha World-Herald's take on Hagel's and Ricketts' tried but increasingly tired approach:
Republican Chuck Hagel threw several sharp jabs Saturday at his U.S. Senate colleague Ben Nelson, saying the Nebraska Democrat showed his partisan stripes when he voted with Ted Kennedy to raise the minimum wage.
Hagel, who refers to Nelson as a "pretend Republican," left no doubt in a speech before a GOP gathering that he plans to be one of Pete Ricketts' strongest, and most vocal, supporters in his battle to unseat Nelson....
The gathering was used by Hagel and others to try to convince rank-and-file Republicans that Nelson can be beaten by Ricketts, a political newcomer....
He also criticized Nelson for voting for the minimum wage bill proposed by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. Hagel said the vote proved that Nelson was not a true conservative....
Although Nelson sometimes votes with President Bush, Ricketts said, Nebraska would be served better with a Republican "who believes what he votes on and is not intellectually dishonest with his votes"....
Hagel called on the national GOP to return to its roots. The party has been in power for more than a decade and has to take responsibility for the nation's rising debt.
"It doesn't do any good to blame Ted Kennedy, blame the media," Hagel said. "I think we've wandered. We've strayed from our Republican moorings."
Well, I can't speak for Republican moorings, but these folks certainly have strayed from something - mainly their responsibilities to the American people and the truth. For all Hagel's fancy talk, it's pretty clear from this article that he's just as much a part of the problem as anyone.
Seriously, it at least used to take Hagel a full 24 hours to reverse course and talk out of both sides of his mouth. Here, he evidently managed such a feat over the course of a single speech - pathetically trying to tie Nelson's voting record to Ted Kennedy while proceeding to scold Republicans for their sad reliance on that very tactic.
Talk about do as I say, not as I do. The fact that Ricketts was there accusing Nelson of being "intellectually dishonest" after that sort of display by Hagel really takes the cake.
Obviously, Hagel's wires got a little bit crossed. Normally playing the part of a maverick and speaking for the national television cameras on weekends, it must have been disorienting to actually be in Nebraska trying to stick to his weekday agenda of voting and talking like a good little Republican.
Regardless, I can't even imagine the baseness of character that it takes to attack Nelson for standing up for a higher minimum wage, as if protecting low-skilled but hard-working families was somehow out of line with Nebraska values. What total and complete nonsense.
Just who does Hagel think he is saying Nelson doesn't uphold conservative principles when his own party has overseen the bankrupting of the nation under 9 trillion dollars of debt? For all that, he wants to sit in judgment on Nelson for thinking full-time employees working 40 hours a week should make more than $10,000 a year?
Perhaps Hagel needs to look a little more closely at the votes of his fellow Republicans, including some to whom he's given quite generous donations through his Political Action Committee. If voting with Ted Kennedy on the minimum wage is the ultimate measure of conservatism, what in God's name is Hagel doing contributing $10,000 to Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio and $5,000 to Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island when they, like Nelson, also voted for Kennedy's Amendment?
Is Hagel going to ask for that money back? If Hagel goes to Ohio, is he going to criticize Sen. DeWine and tell the people of that state he's not "a true conservative"?
Somehow, I don't think that's likely. After all, that would require some actual consistency from our famously self-contradictory Senator Hagel and his dueling faux-presidential persona.
Stay tuned, folks. I've got a feeling there will be a lot more of this sort of double-speak to come in the coming months. Ricketts and his emissaries will say just about anything to chip away at Nelson's impressive and intimidating support. Hypocrisy is of small concern for a campaign so desperate with a message so empty and cynical.