Of course, readers of this site know to take what Hagel says with a grain of salt because he so rarely backs it up with action. But, after watching Hagel's most recent Sunday morning performance, I think we could probably all use a little more sodium in our diets. Whatever his motivations, the man has a way of saying things that need to be said, and that's a rare commodity on Capitol Hill.
Omaha World-Herald and Internet headlines have focused on Hagel's brief mention of impeachment as Congress' ultimate recourse to a President who believes himself beyond accountability, but what he said was really no more than a reiteration of comments made to Esquire magazine in a profile earlier this month. Hagel has not and will not advocate impeachment - he's just willing to say "the I word" with a Republican President in office.
To be honest, I was more amused and more impressed by Hagel's telling the Bush Administration that they "should read the Constitution" before claiming Congress has no role overseeing the war in Iraq. Word that Hagel is working on a bipartisan plan for the war with Virginia Senator Jim Webb also seemed imminently more newsworthy - even if the details were not yet available.
When pressed, Hagel also touched on his infamous non-announcement of two weeks ago. On that front, he did a pretty good job of shifting the blame to the national press for overhyping what was supposed to be a simple statement to the people of Nebraska about his plans for 2008. Of course, I don't buy that story for a second, but it probably sounded like a plausible enough explanation to viewers at home who aren't aware of Hagel's addiction to the spotlight.
So, Chuck Hagel is still very good at being Chuck Hagel. He puts on a mean Sunday morning performance - speaking with forthrightness and clarity one really can't help but appreciate.
Does it serve his presidential ambitions? Does he back it up the other 6 days of the week? Am I sometimes forced to ask myself 'what the hell is this guy thinking?' All valid questions, but none of them change the fact that, even if Hagel is a total phoney, he's our phoney. And - on a certain level - his feigned independence and out-sized ego probably positions him as the quintessential Nebraska politician.
For whatever that's worth.