Monday, July 17, 2006

Deflating the 'Chuck Hagel for President' Hype

by Kyle Michaelis
Don Walton of the Lincoln Journal-Star includes some choice references to Chuck Hagel's potential as a presidential candidate in today's column. Walton writes/paraphrases:
Kind words for Chuck Hagel from GQ and the Houston Chronicle.

“Willingness to take a stand differentiates him from most of his colleagues in the Senate,” Wil Hylton wrote in a GQ assessment of 2008 presidential prospects.

“He has the charm, intellect and wit to make people like him instantly, despite political differences.”

However, GQ noted, opposition from the White House in retaliation for his criticism of Bush administration foreign policy “could derail Hagel before he has a chance to get his campaign up and running.”

In an editorial, The Chronicle praised Hagel as “a moderate anchor in the divisive debate over immigration.”

The newspaper urged Houston business leaders to “forcefully champion Sen. Hagel’s realistic and moderate proposal, which would bring undocumented workers and their families out of the shadows.”

Hagel authored the controversial Senate plan to provide a pathway to legal status for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already living in the United States.

Well, that certainly seems to put Hagel in good stead - even if he's going to face some obvious difficulties in getting his campaign off the ground. Yet, according to the National Journal - which Walton normally quotes like the Bible but noticeably holds off mentioning in this regard - Hagel's presidential possibilities might be more of a lost cause than anyone in the Nebraska press will want to admit.

Having ranked Hagel in its second-tier of candidates for the Republican presidential noimination (#7-10), the NJ's Chuck Todd appears to be on the verge of dropping Hagel down even further, if not entirely.

Todd writes/pleads:
Chuck Hagel (R), Nebraska Senator
Why do we still include him? Somebody make the case to us, please.

That's the shortest write-up any of the supposed candidates received. It's also the most plain and the most brutal.

Of course, there's still all the time in the world for Hagel to make a legitimate run at the White House, but - at this point in the summer of 2006 - despite Don Walton's hopes to the contrary, it doesn't look like it's going to happen.


Blogger Street Sweeper said...

Don Walton quotes a national magazine and major newspaper, which, by the way, gives a negative spin to the whole Hagel for Prez idea, and you go attack Don for it? Don Walton is one of the most, if not the most, balanced, insightful and knowledgeable people writing about Nebraska politics. He’s forgotten more about Nebraska politics than you’ll ever know. His style is clean, intelligent and doesn’t carry a whiff of the pretension that fills up the rest of this blog. You’re lucky to be able to quote him and your mockery is insulting.

Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...

I'm glad Don Walton has such vociferous defenders ready to leap to his aid. When I've been in his company, he's certainly seemed a gentle and intelligent fellow. That doesn't mean he's not enamored with the idea of Sen. Hagel as our next president. Don't think I mocked the man anywhere - just posted an addendum to his column.

But, please, continue in Walton's defense. He's quite capable as a political reporter. Some of his attempts at folksy charm in his columns are a bit grating and repetitive, but that's a stylistic choice obviously somebody finds appealing.

Different strokes....I suppose.

Alas, somewhere along the way, Walton's also forgotten how to ask a tough question. In today's column, for example, he gives space to Pete Ricketts explaining his signing the spending lid petition because it offers Nebraskans an opportunity to "have an open debate" on the topic.

Yet, Ricketts is listed not just as a signer but a "supporter" of the spending lid amendment on its backer's website. That demands a lot more explanation than what Walton cared to report. Of course, his style is going to be clean when he's not willing to challenge himself or the politicians he covers.

Doesn't make him a bad journalist - just one who's sort of lost his way.

Anonymous nepolwatcher said...

Why are you guys debating Don Walton's reporting skills? Don is just like the rest of the lazy NE media - they want Hagel to run to make them relevant. No embarrassing questions lest ye discourage the ego maniac.

Hagel will run but here is why his campaign will fizzle faster than a taepodong II missile:

1. Record. He flip flops more than batter at IHOP. Don't beleive me? look at the brilliant Sunday Hagel v. Weekday Hagel releases issued by the NDP over the last few years.

2. Record II: Nobody who opposes the Iraq war; supports amnesty for illegal immigrants; votes against border security; opposes farm bills and drought assistance; votes to provide illegal immigrants with Social Security benefits can win the Republican primary for president.

3. temperment. the guy makes John McCain seem like Snoopy. Don't believe me? Check out Fred Knapp's - of Nebraska Public Radio - report about Hael's trip to Gitmo last year. He loses his cool over a Democratic Party press release and outright contradicts himself. Think that could happen again?

On the other hand, Hagel does own most of the voting macines in Nebraska...

Anonymous Grendel said...

Frankly, I'd much rather see Hagel get the Republican nomination than George Allen, the racist, currently number 3 on the National Journal's list (see TNRs profile). The thought of Allen as president scares the sh*t out of me. I'll sleep a lot better if Jim Webb cleans Allen's clock in the Virginia senate race. Not that I'm enthusiastic about Hagel, but there are Republicans who would be much, much worse...

Anonymous UNL YD said...

In response to our Republican friend, Streetsweeper (which I would like to point out, runs the Pete Ricketts blog).

Streetsweeper says,
"His style is clean, intelligent and doesn’t carry a whiff of the pretension that fills up the rest of this blog. You’re lucky to be able to quote him and your mockery is insulting."

First off, if well written prose and debate about important issues (that the republican right is to afraid to address) is pretension then god bless it and keep it coming Kyle.

Furthermore, as a friend of Don Walton's I saw no mockery of Walton in Kyles post.

If questioning a reporter and asking him to delve even deeper into a story than he already did is mockery then I suppose streetsweeper also believes that questioning your government and elected officials is also mockery. I guess my friends and I consider it democracy, free flow of ideas and freedom of speech. All of which make this democracy possible.

Anonymous Don Kuhns said...

I'd like to know who's behind all those "Chuck Hagel's a REAL conservative, Ben Nelson AIN'T!" letters that have been popping up in the World Herald's letters section.


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