Friday, April 20, 2007

Chuck Hagel vs. Jon Bruning - Round One

by Kyle Michaelis
While our anonymous GOP counterpart at Leavenworth Street has set his sights on Jon Bruning for having been a Democrat in his college days - publishing statements he made as a columnist at the Daily Nebraskan that suggest Bruning's either a secret liberal in conservative's clothing or an unprincipled political opportunist - it's amusing that Bruning's supposedly controversial remarks (i.e. “Homosexuals should have the same rights as everyone else” - GASP!!!) have only come to light as Bruning attempts to establish himself as the loyal Republican and the "good" Republican in a potential 2008 primary challenge to Sen. Chuck Hagel.

Nevermind that Bruning's statements have been readily available for as long as he's been in Nebraska politics. Nevermind that I'd personally read his columns in the Daily Nebraskan archives four years ago. Nevermind that Bruning's statements have about as much relevance as his run-ins with the police as a frat boy in college. Bruning's gone on the attack against Hagel, so certain powers that be in the Nebraska Republican Party have decided that Bruning is fair game.

Aside from the amusement factor, I don't much care about Hagel, Bruning, and their respective camps going to war with one another on something so trivial. I am, however, happy to see that Hagel is standing up for himself and for our troops in Iraq as the new wave of Republican BS that supporting the troops means letting them die in vain finds Bruning its new champion in Nebraska.

The Omaha World-Herald reports:
Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., said Thursday that Iraq is "worse off than it's ever been" and that he will continue to press President Bush to change his war policy.

Hagel made his fifth trip to Iraq last weekend, visiting Anbar province and Baghdad's highly fortified Green Zone....

The U.S. military is doing an outstanding job, Hagel said, but it's up to elected officials to guide the development of the mission in Iraq.

"We're not playing with a set of dominoes here," Hagel said in a conference call with reporters. "We're not playing with budgets here. We're talking about real lives. We're talking about the most real and fundamental aspects of the world, our position and security."

Hagel was asked about a possible challenge from Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning in the Republican Senate primary next year....Bruning said Wednesday that he might run regardless of what Hagel does. He criticized Hagel for supporting a timetable to get out of Iraq, saying it could hurt troop morale.

Said Hagel: "I don't accept that. I just don't agree with that. Those who make those kinds of statements maybe should go to Iraq and spend a little time (there) like I have.

"Maybe if they understood a little about the military, had any experience in the military, it might help them understand this better," added Hagel, a Vietnam veteran.
Who is the "they" of which Hagel speaks? Well, about 90% of Republicans in Congress - as well as our Republican President and all announced Republican Presidential candidates - would certainly seem to qualify.

To our discredit, Nebraska's entire House delegation has also adopted the Republican talking points suggesting that, after 4 years of increasing disaster, all our military leaders really need is more time.

Most recently, 3rd District Congressman Adrian Smith declared, "We have a long way to go. There is tough and difficult work ahead, but we are making progress." Of course, this progress is never defined as Smith's far-from-expert opinion flies in the face of Hagel's assessment and the facts showing the last 6 months in Iraq being the deadliest for American forces since the 2003 invasion.

So, Jon Bruning and Adrian Smith have their talking points while Chuck Hagel is left talking from experience that may or may not be colored by his own ambitions. Either way, they may all inhabit the same party but not the same reality - not on this issue. It's still politics, though, so one suspects they're all playing the same games.

Round One Score Card:
Jon Bruning - 09
Chuck Hagel - 10

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Anonymous Dave Sund said...

Unprincipled political opportunist? A Republican? Never!

But once again you ignore the real story here, Kyle. We all know that you're planning on running as a Republican in 15 years!

Blogger Eric said...

Whether or not Bruning's statements have been available for a while is not the question. It was news to me, and it probably will be to lots of other regular folks who start paying more attention once he's trying to join the big leagues. I don't think the shock is from the content of those columns themselves, but because they are so extremely contradictory to the principles he champions today. Given that he goes from being a "Hagel guy" to a Hagel hater in a month seems to be showing a pattern of possible political opportunism. These kind of people should not be accepted by the electorate regardless of ideology, and so I think it is still relevant.

Anonymous nepolwatcher said...

Hey Eric-
Is it "political opportunism" to publicly decry the war, the nvote for it? What about saying the Patriot Act violates our rights but then vote for it anyway? And, what about saying states need federal help to fight Meth and then vote against the funding? Oh, and what about voting against YOUR OWN resolution condemning the president's policies in Iraq a nd later admit you did it for political reasons? Did Bruning do any of those things? No Hagel did. and Hagel's "political duplicity" is worse than Bruning's naked ambition. I think that'swhy Bruning and Daub are so interested - Hagel is classic politiican that says one thing and does the other. Nebraska is weary. Plus, Bruning lives here, Hagel doesn't.

Blogger Eric said...


Don't look to me to defend Hagel. Unlike Bruning, I've never been a "Hagel guy".


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