Chuck Hagel: The Paper Tiger on Paperby Kyle Michaelis
Good blogging probably requires picking one name and sticking with it to highlight the huge gulf between Chuck Hagel's public perception and his actual record. The Mock Maverick. Talk Show Hagel. Weekend Hagel. Conductor of the ALL-TALK Express. Paper Tiger.
Whatever his title, the facts pretty much speak for themselves. While Hagel has offered a voice of dissent in the disastrously ill-conceived and mismananged Iraq War, that voice has lacked even an echo of action forcing accountability and protecting our servicemen.
And, while Hagel has cast a few ideologically-sound votes against the Bush Administration's most extravagant expansions of the federal government (and its defecit), his record is one of almost unrivaled complicity in the failed agenda that has earned Bush an approval rating just slightly above 30% in national polling.
As the perfect illustration of this complicity, take a look at the numbers compiled by Congressional Quarterly (and reported by MyDD) comparing the 2006 voting records of Congressional Republicans who might seek the presidency. Contrary to his public perception, Hagel actually supported Bush more frequently in 2006 than any of the others seen as potential Republican nominees.
Name / Pres. Support Score (%) / Party Unity Score (%)What's most ironic is that Hagel has drawn the ire of so many Republicans with his public statements that their opinions of him, even here in Nebraska, often border on hatred. In this way, Hagel might just be one of the worst victims of his own hype and ambition in American politics. Not only would a long-shot bid for the presidency require millions of dollars he doesn't have, but Hagel would also have to overcome the perception that he's undermined the President and betrayed the Republican Party.
Sen. George Allen (VA) / 91 / 96
Sen. Sam Brownback (KS) / 92 / 83
Sen. Bill Frist (TN) / 93 / 94
Sen. Chuck Hagel (NE) / 96 / 84
Rep. Duncan Hunter (CA) / 92 / 94
Sen. John McCain (AZ) / 89 / 76
Sen. Rick Santorum (PA) / 86 / 92
Being from a small, Midwestern state with little political clout, those are two very tall orders. What's funny is that any efforts to undermine Hagel's credibility with progressives and liberals - pointing out his record as a "Mock Maverick" and "Paper Tiger" - probably work to Hagel's favor, especially in heavily-Republican Nebraska.
Of course, there's a certain appeal to the idea that Hagel might actually have a chance at the Republican nomination if the voters knew his record. But, such assumptions are rather lazy intellectually and questionable in the extreme.
It's true that, under scrutiny, Hagel is not what he seems. What he is, however, is probably even worse: a man who speaks out of one side of his mouth and votes out of the other. Not to mention, a man who's enabled President Bush and Bush's disastrous, unpopular agenda every step along the way.
With Bush's approval rating as low as it is and has been for the last year, Hagel's actual record is as much of a liability as his false, media-created persona. And, in the 2008 Presidential race, these twin liabilities would prove costly in both the primary and the general election.
Paper tiger, indeed. Meow.