Thursday, February 08, 2007

Chuck Hagel's Credibility Gap

by Kyle Michaelis
I have mostly recovered from my painful two-day-long realization that Sen. Chuck Hagel will never have the courage to truly back-up his tough talk on the Iraq War.
1. Chuck Hagel & Ben Nelson Do Nebraska Proud in Iraq Debate
2. Chuck Hagel's True Colors - Party Before Principle
3. Chuck Hagel: Shoe Salesman
4. Chuck Hagel Loses the War With Himself
I don't know if this is a symptom of his 30 years in Washington D.C. or if it's just the nature of the beast that is Republican politics, but the mix of Hagel's ambition with his ranking as the Senate's #1 supporter of President Bush's agenda have left him all but incapable of standing up to Bush when it really counts - even on this issue he's called the most important of our day.

Hagel now wants to reimagine his Monday vote to filibuster the Warner-Levin Resolution and to keep debate of Bush's Iraq policy off the Senate floor as nothing more than a procedural vote. He has to say that to avoid looking like the overhyped phony and hypocrite he continues to reveal himself as at every opportunity. But, as the leaders of both parties and as Hagel himself certainly understood, Monday's vote was a moment of definition and declaration, drawing the lines that will shape Congress' role in the Iraq War through the next election.

Less than two weeks prior, Hagel had insisted that it is time for all for all 100 Senators to be "on the line" and to take a stand on our nation's Iraq policy. Monday's vote put Hagel on that line - it demanded that he take a stand - and, when all was said and done, he stood with the President and his party rather than the American people and the supposed principles he's espoused.

This Republican filibuster had one primary intent - to kill the momentum building against Bush's "troop surge." By insulating Bush from criticism and by delaying the debate of his Iraq policy as long as possible, it becomes harder and harder for Congress to effectively challenge Bush's policy without taking extreme measures that would divide Congress and the American public along reactionary lines that may be the Republicans' only path to regaining power.

Hagel's vote enabled the Republican Party to continue playing games with American soldiers' lives for political purposes. Now, to save their skins in 2008 and to salvage some shred of credibility, Hagel and a tiny band of six non-Neocon Republicans have denounced the "stalemate" Hagel helped create.

They say they will force the debate by other means if they must, but it's TOO LITTLE TOO LATE. On Monday, Hagel had the opportunity to stand on principle to give the Iraq War the fair, open, and official debate it deserves - that owed to more than 3,100 dead and to untold scores of the physically and emotionally wounded who have been all but abandoned by Congress over the last four years.

As we all know, that isn't the choice Hagel made. Instead, he chose to play along with the Republicans' political games. And, when he's being criticized for such unprincipled hypocrisy, his answer is to play more games with procedure - as if two wrongs make a right. But, he's already had his chance to stand and be counted in defense of this long overdue debate. Hagel had that chance, and he chose not to take it. Whatever his justification, he can't hide or deny that choice - as shameful as it was.

But, Hagel is right about something. This debate is going to happen - the Democratic Party will make sure of that. What we see here is just Hagel's usual attempt to take the credit for it and to position himself for media glory. But, on Monday, he showed his true colors. The New Nebraska Network has seen Hagel for who and what he is, and we won't be fooled again.

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Anonymous TedK said...

Some correspondance between myself and Senator Hagel:
Senator Hagel:
For once I believed that your vote would match your rhetoric. I should have known better. How could you strongly defend your resolution to stop the Iraq troop escalation, appear on numerous news shows, then vote against the resolution? I would appreciate an explanation. I'm not very surprised as you vote as the Bush administration wishes more than any other senator. For some reason I hoped this time would be different. Since most of your Republican constituents consider you "liberal" because you spoke out, but are too ignorant or lazy to realize you always vote with Bush, I hope your desire to sell shoes comes true in 2008.
Thank you for contacting me regarding the procedural vote on the Iraq War Resolution that occurred in the Senate on February 5th. I appreciate hearing your concerns and recognize that the Senate’s procedural maneuvers can be difficult to follow.

As I have said many times, the most important and divisive issue facing our country today is the war in Iraq. The Senate must have a debate on the war in Iraq. I have worked with my colleagues to craft a resolution that puts the Senate on record opposing the President’s decision to send as many as 50,000 additional U.S. troops in Iraq. I intend to see that there is a vote on this resolution.

I voted with the Republican Minority on February 5th to protect the rights of the minority to offer alternative resolutions. I have always said that there should be a full, fair and open debate about the U.S. policy in Iraq. The Majority Party, the Democrats, should not be able to dictate to the Minority Party, the Republicans, what resolutions will be offered and the number of those resolutions. That is unfair and wrong. This issue has nothing to do with my position on the Iraq war. It is a procedural issue. All 100 Senators must express themselves on whether they support the President’s military escalation in Iraq or not. The American people deserve and expect to know where their Senators stand on this issue. I am extremely frustrated that our Senate Leadership has failed to find a compromise which would permit a full, fair and open debate for both the Majority and the Minority to go forward in the Senate.

This week, I joined six of my Republican colleagues in sending a letter to the Senate’s Leaders informing them that “the current stalemate is unacceptable to us and to the people of this country” and that “we strongly believe that the Senate should be allowed to work its will on our resolution as well as the concepts brought forward by other Senators.” Attached is a copy of that letter. We will keep working until the Senate goes on record on this issue.

Best Wishes,

Senator Chuck Hagel

Senator, this letter reeks of hypocrisy. The Republicans have allowed virtually no participation by Democrats in introducing legislation and amendments for the past 4 years. This is a non-binding bi-partisan resolution that deserves an up or down vote. Stop hiding behind procedural moves. Vote on this resolution, then consider others if you must. It's clear that you and your party are trying to protect the Bush administration and the Republican party by not requiring your party's members to either vote against the desires of the President or against the will of the majority of the people. We both understand how the Senate works. Once again there is a disconnect between your votes and your speeches.

Blogger Eric said...


Thanks for contacting Senator Hagel. I think his response provides some insight into what all is going on. I believe him when he says the vote was procedural especially if we do get to eventually see a vote on the actual resolution. But, I don't think that the intricacies of Senate procedure are beyond the comprehension of us regular folk, and I would appreciate a more detailed explanation of what exactly his motives were (and no one seems to be reporting on it).

It is my understanding that the Democrats were willing to debate and vote on the McCain resolution (supporting the surge) as well. So what was the hold up here? I think we deserve more of an explanation on such an important issue even if it might be beyond the ability of most of us laymen to understand.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is how the negotiations between the Senate leaders played out according to news reports. Senator Reid Offered Senator McConnell the following:

A majority vote on 1) the Warner-Levin resolution and 2) the McCain-Lieberman-Graham resolution;
A majority vote on 1) the Warner-Levin resolution; 2) the McCain-Lieberman-Graham resolution; 3) the Gregg resolution; and 4) a Democratic resolution supporting the troops; or
Votes with a 60-vote threshold on 1) the Warner-Levin resolution and 2) the McCain-Lieberman-Graham resolution.

All of these offers were rejected.

McConnell counter-offered with:
Votes with a 60-vote threshold on 1) the Warner-Levin resolution; 2) the McCain-Lieberman-Graham resolution; and 3) the Gregg resolution.

Senator Reid rejected that and then offered votes with a 60-vote threshold on the Warner resolution and the McCain resolution.

Republicans then dropped their request for a vote on the McCain resolution and instead offered votes with a 60-vote threshold on the Warner resolution and the Gregg resolution.

Reid did not accept those terms.

So you can see – Reid offered them votes on all their resolutions- it wasn’t about “the minority’s ability to offer alternatives” as Hagel says. They had that opportunity to offer their resolutions they just wanted to force a 60 vote threshold.


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