Chuck Hagel's True Colors - Party Before Principleby Kyle Michaelis
Well, it looks like Hagel's All Talk Express might have reached new levels of ridiculousness and hypocrisy, as Senate Republicans are counting on his vote to forestall and filibuster the Senate's even debating the resolutions opposing Bush's plan.
A Senate showdown on Iraq loomed Monday as Republicans said they would block a measure stating opposition to President Bush's plan to send additional troops into the nearly four-year-old war.
Attempts to reach a deal to allow voting Monday as scheduled have failed, Democratic and Republican leadership aides said Sunday night. But talks were slated to continue on Monday, they said.
Democrats need 60 votes to cut off debate and move forward with the resolution of opposition.
"It's an important first step, but if you can't get past a procedural motion to debate it, it's obstructionism," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, told CNN. "And I would really urge the Republicans to reconsider. I think it's a terrible mistake to prevent this debate."
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday that "as a matter of fairness," all 49 GOP senators would oppose a procedural vote that would let the chamber take up a bipartisan but nonbinding statement of opposition to Bush's "new way forward" -- a plan to send 21,500 more American troops to Baghdad and western Iraq....
McConnell, R-Kentucky, said senators should be allowed to vote on alternatives that would express support for Bush's strategy and one that would pledge the Senate to keep funding the U.S. presence. A GOP leadership aide said the chamber's Democratic leader, Majority Leader Harry Reid, has not yet agreed to set votes on those measures and require a 60-vote threshold to pass.....
If Republicans hang together, they could force Democratic leaders to pull the proposal from the floor until an agreement can be reached. But Jim Manley, a spokesman for Reid, said GOP leaders and the White House are trying to keep their members from embarrassing the president with a vote against his plan.
"Any suggestion that Democrats are standing in the way of a full debate is simply not credible," Manley said. "Senate Republicans have rejected three compromises that would have permitted the Senate to vote on the president's plan and other Republican proposals."
Meanwhile, NBC News' "First Read" has taken direct note of Hagel's nonsensical positioning, putting party before principle and party before his own integrity:
The highly anticipated vote on a non-binding resolution opposing a troop increase is on the verge of not happening at all, unless a deal is reached quickly between Senate leaders Harry Reid (D) and Mitch McConnell (R), NBC's Ken Strickland reports. Reid has scheduled a 5:30 pm procedural vote that would allow the process to begin. But McConnell announced late Friday that all 49 Senate Republicans, including those who are chief sponsors and supporters of the resolution, will vote against the "motion to proceed," thereby keeping Democrats from obtaining the 60 votes needed to move forward toward a vote.Could it be that Hagel really doesn't want an open debate and an honest vote on the floor of the Senate? Could it be that he's scared of the consequences of actually following through on his big talk...scared of finally backing it up with action?
Democrats contend that Republicans, at the White House's direction, are trying to avoid a vote that is likely to demonstrate a bipartisan majority opposing Bush's plan. McConnell says his conference is "using procedure to ensure a fair process." Even so, it's striking that McConnell managed to get all Senate Republicans to agree to vote against the motion -- including John Warner, the resolution's chief sponsor, and Chuck Hagel, the GOP conference's most vocal opponent of a troop increase.
On "This Week" yesterday, Hagel seemed genuinely rattled when asked to respond to the likes of Rush Limbaugh declaring him "Senator Betray-us." For fear of offending Rush and the radical hordes of the Republican Right, Hagel did not even make an attempt to defend himself.
And now, Hagel shows signs of making the same cowardly choice in deference to his party's bosses, falling in line with them rather than staying true to the issue that defines him in the public's imagination.
I would like to imagine that some encouraging words would do Hagel some good - a bit of "to thine own self be true" from Hamlet, perhaps - but those of us who are familiar with Hagel's record know all too well that for Chuck Hagel being true to himself means being true to his ambitions.
That's what this is all about. Not the principles. Not the troops. Not the millions of Americans so desperate for a leader who speaks with courage and clarity. No, this is about Chuck Hagel - nothing more and certainly nothing less.