Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Chuck Hagel: Cashing-In on "Character and Courage"

by Kyle Michaelis
Responding to a discussion down below and following-up on Pete Ricketts' campaign ad featuring Sen. Chuck Hagel, it seems worthwhile to put a little further consideration into Hagel's motivations at this stage of the campaign.

Now, Hagel's long-standing grudge against Sen. Ben Nelson is well known in political circles, and this explains some of why Hagel continues to target Nelson for defeat. There was a general sense in the GOP primary that Hagel favored Ricketts because of the damage he imagined all those millions of dollars could inflict on Nelson. Ricketts also stood most in the Hagel mold, whereby Hagel's '96 campaign as a wealthy Republican making his first bid for public office was expected to serve as a successful model.

Hagel has remained one of Ricketts most (or, perhaps, "only") steadfast supporters - breaking the tradition of home state Senators not actively campaigning against one another despite the national Republican Party's making clear their complete lack of faith in Ricketts' candidacy.

That Hagel continues to tout Ricketts really shouldn't be such a surprise - they hitched their teams together long ago, and there's no question that Ricketts' weakness is a reflection on Hagel's own. With his presidential prospects dimming, Hagel had banked on earning credibility and overcoming Republicans suspicions about his loyalty by flexing his muscles in Nebraska and willing the Republicans one more seat to counteract their expected losses across the country. As that possibility seems less and less likely, Hagel's fight now becomes one of simply avoiding complete embarrassment.

Hagel can't just cut his losses with Ricketts. This is his baby. Acknowledging that, fueled by delusions of grandeur and resentment at the polls consistently showing Nelson's higher approval rating - even with Republican voters - Hagel lends what weight he has to Ricketts because he has no other choice.

Oh, but don't feel bad for Hagel's digging himself into such a hole. There's upside here for him even if it comes at the expense of Pete Ricketts (literally). In fact, while Ricketts' checkbook is open and millions of dollars from the Ricketts family's multi-billion dollar fortune are being desperately bandied about, one can't really blame Hagel for cashing-in in his own little way.

Seriously, watch Hagel's supposed endorsement of Ricketts. The ad isn't even about Ricketts. It's about Chuck Hagel. On the surface, Hagel says the unseen Ricketts has "character and courage" and voters are expected to take his word for it though they've seen neither from Ricketts throughout the campaign. Voters were never going to fall for that.

Hagel, however, stands to benefit because his talking about "character and courage" - on Pete Ricketts' dime - serves as a nifty reminder of his well-cultivated persona. Sure, it might be baseless and absurd to claim Ricketts has these qualities, but Hagel's talking about them reinforces the idea that he has them himself.

If anything, this ad seems to suggest that Hagel is keeping his options open for 2008. Chiefly, if this whole presidential campaign doesn't work out, Hagel wants to at least have the option of falling back on his Senate seat with no one pulling the chair out from under him. With many Nebraska Republicans resentful of Hagel's Sunday morning criticism of President Bush and the occupation of Iraq, it can't hurt for Hagel to play the loyal footsoldier for the folks back home in an effort to boost his standing.

While Nebraska's upstart Attorney General Jon Bruning is running a campaign ad in a race without opposition to position himself for higher office - perhaps Hagel's office - this is also a nice slap-down, reminding Bruning to wait his turn.

A politician who would pass up the opportunity of free advertising wouldn't be much of a politician. Like strategists and pollsters all over the place, Hagel's just getting what he can from Ricketts while the getting is good.

Yup, that "character and courage" sure does come in handy. And, who knew it paid so well?

5 Comments:

Anonymous nepolwatcher said...

Kyle - good analysis.

The real questions are:
Does Pete even know he's being used as an ad-pimp for Hagel?

And how much "character and courage" does it take for Hagel to rip off Pete Ricketts for his own personal gain?

This is stealing - its seperating a fool and his money. If pete had any cajones left, he'd pull the Hagel ad and fire all the Hagel aids leeching on his payroll.

10/10/2006  
Anonymous Dori said...

The Hagel ad is the best ad yet to come out of the Ricketts' campaign. I was quite pleased to see a positive, non-violent ad. Then, today, the Safari ad was launched and my hopes of a positive end to the campaign were shattered...

10/10/2006  
Blogger Daily Bulldog said...

*yawn*....you folks are behind and lost.

Where's your "Hagel"? A self-made guy who volunteered for Vietnam?

Kerrey? Nah...hiding out in NYC. I deeply respect Kerrey but Kleeb isn't a good surrogate.

Sorry guys...it's lights out.

10/10/2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Bulldog welcome back and good for you for not insulting anyone in your post. Scooby snack for you!

but when you say lights out do you mean lights out on the $15 million embarrasment that is the Ricketts campaign? You couldn't possibly mean lights out on Ben Nelson, could you?

And when you say Hagel is "self made" do you mean that his friends made him president of a sham company that manipulated a telecommunications license lottery and he made millions from that questionable business practice?

Just wondering.

10/10/2006  
Blogger Obbop said...

Chucky Hagel, as shown by his actiona and inactions, has apparently never met an illegal alien invader he does not adore.

10/20/2006  

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