Saturday, June 23, 2007

Bruning Goes National

by Ryan Anderson
Sorry this post is so late, but having recently ditched my daily dose of conservative radio for some good ‘ole classic rock, I missed Jon Bruning’s appearance on the Laura Ingraham show and had to wait for the podcast. It took a couple of days. And no, it wasn’t worth it.

Begging for a caption contest?

A repetition of Bruning’s standard strikes against Hagel (his stance on immigration, his position on Iraq), the interview is notable only because someone was talking about Chuck Hagel on a national news talk show, and this time it wasn’t Chuck Hagel.

Personally, I’m skeptical that conservative weariness of the Sunday Morning “Hagel Show” has produced any real appetite for Bruning’s “Anti-Hagel Show”. Bruning could’ve brought this campaign (and the issues of the day) out of the long shadow cast by Hagel’s ego and public image. Failing to take that opportunity makes him vulnerable to the same impatience and fatigue that’s slowly sinking the Senator.

And then what happens if Hagel decides to jump ship? Does Bruning really want to be the only person left in the race that still thinks it’s “all about Chuck”? Hey, that’s the bed he’s made. I hope it’s comfortable.

Bruning’s early and persistent attacks on Hagel have earned him the endorsement of the conservative RedState bloggers, an item that apparently impressed the people over at It’s not clear this endorsement means anything substantively, but rhetorically it has given weight to progressive blogger’s claims that this race has become a sort of Lieberman-Lamont in reverse, or one part of an even larger movement to eliminate anti-war dissent in the national Republican ranks.

It’s a good story, but one that seems a tad over-sold. Yes, this is a primary battle based almost entirely on the single issue of Iraq. And yes, the Lieberman story was portrayed unfairly as some unprincipled purge of Democratic dissent, a charge this story has somehow managed to escape.

The difference is that liberal bloggers were way ahead of the Conneticut Primary, actively seeking a liberal challenger long before Lamont expressed any interest. The conservative bloggers in this case are Johnny-come-latelys, activists seeking to capitalize on a homegrown fight that’s dominated by ego and personality.

But ego and personality only go so far. This story might continue to grow in national prominence as Hagel slugs back and Bruning finds new lines of attack. But it’s a story we Nebraskans have heard before, one we’ve heard maybe one time too many. And, believe me, it doesn’t end well for either candidate.

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Anonymous Jon Rehm said...

Good for you in ditching the talk radio for classic rock. I think a lot of political news is tiresome. That goes for a lot of the liberal blogosphere as well. I don't know how you keep up with all this shit without going crazy. However I'm glad you do.

True Bruning's ego is driving this campaign in part, but ego drives all of politics to a larger extent than politicians would acknowledge. That said, Iraq and immigration are some big issues with the Republican base. I suspect Hagel is on the wrong side of both issues for Nebraska conservatives. To them Hagel supports amnesty and surrender Heineman beat a living legend by highlighting differences on immigration. Chuck Hagel hasn't won 3 national championships either. I think Hagel is in real trouble and I would wager money that if Hagel wins it won't be close.

Although Nelson is more progressive than Hagel by a long ways, Hagel is better on the immigration issue than Nelson and has expended a lot more political capital on Iraq than Ben Nelson. On immigration something has to be done to normalize the status of undocumented workers. As long as Mexico and Central America stay significantly poorer than the U.S. illegal immigration will continue to be an issue. Ben Nelson isn't acknowledging this reality, Chuck Hagel is. I don't think you should be using creative but contorted arguments to praise Nelson on immigration. Again Hagel is risking poltical capital on an issue that Nelson isn't. Give Hagel some credit.

Blogger Ryan Anderson said...

Hey Jon,

I appreciate the response. Just for the record, this post was my doing, not Kyle's.

Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...

Just for the record, I've never been able to stomach talk radio and get almost all of my news online and from the local press. However, I too have been going through a bit of a classic rock phase, listening to a lot of The Beach Boys the last couple of weeks (mostly Smiley Smile and Pet Sounds).

As for my "creative but contorted" praise of Nelson, all I did was acknowledge a situation for what it is. With Hagel, the Bush Agenda's #1 propoent in the U.S. Senate, I'm not going to heap praise on the man on immigration reform - especially when the bill before the U.S. Senate really does seem flawed enough that it will create more problems than it solves.

I advocate comprehensive reform, but I'm not for passing any damn bill they can get. Besides, I've given Hagel credit on several occcasions for his position on immigration. Although I appreciate the sentiment, it would be nice if people would stop telling me whose ass I need to do a better job of kissing.

Blogger Ryan Anderson said...

If you haven't already, you should check out Brian Wilson's 2004 release of "SMiLE". His vocals aren't quite what they used to be, but the music is very interesting.

As for conservative talk radio, I was raised on that stuff. My dad isn't conservative by any means, but it was always on in the family car and yelling at the likes of Michael Savage and Neil Boortz accounted for what little political life I had in my formative years. Still I listen. It soothes, like an alarm clock soothes a litter of puppies.

Anonymous Jon Rehm said...

Kyle and Ryan,

Sorry for mixing you two up.

I have problems with immigration bill on the left. It's too punitive and it codifies a class of second class residents with the guest worker program. Maybe it's better to wait until 2009 when we put Hilary or Barack in the White House. That said I'm disappointed in Ben on immigration. But Ben disappoints on plenty of issues for progressives, but to paraphrase a song from the late classic rock era, Ben's all us Nebraska Dems have tonight and we need him tonight.

Kyle, not asking you to kiss Hagel's ass, that's what the beltway bozos are for. Plus did you see Walton's column on Monday? Comparing Hagel to Frank Norris? I'd say that's a little over the top and slightly ahistorical, Don. Norris was a true progressive champion, Hagel is pretty much a straight up conservative Republican who exercies common sense on occassion. Maybe I was being too charitable to Hagel.

By the way who's the guy in the picture shaking hands with our Jimmy Kimmel-clone of an attorney general? I'm not as much as a poltical junkie as you two political meth freaks. I'm a mere political heavy drinker damnit!

My whole life has been a classic rock phase. After 32 years next Monday of the stuff, you tend to get a little burned out. But it's good to see that younger guys still like decent music.

Conservative radio as comforting for a progressive? That's some sick conditioning. Conservative blathering is funny is small doses, but comforting? That's messed up.

Blogger Ryan Anderson said...

"Conservative radio as comforting for a progressive? That's some sick conditioning. Conservative blathering is funny is small doses, but comforting? That's messed up."

What can I say? We all have guilty pleasures. Though maybe I laid it on a little thick back there. It's a love-hate relationship, sure, but I'll be damned if I can explain the love side of the equation.

Blogger JimEenright said...

Sen Hagel is a great guy personally.. He's just dead politically in Nebraska and rightfully so.He ignores the will of the people that elected him. Bruning is just the lightning rod for the anger against Hagel. Who else is there to challenge Hagel? Mike Johanns? Hal Daub? I don't think so. Bruning needs a little polishing, but he's young, energetic, smart and NOT HAGEL. ung


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