Signs of Life in "Hagel for President"???by Kyle Michaelis
So, what can we take from blogger "Charlie's" sudden resurgence of activity? He explains his absence as a result of "moving," but it's hard to disregard the stench of death that's surrounded Hagel's presidential ambitions which couldn't have allowed for much cheerleading and enthusiasm. But, suddenly, Charlie is back at it again - with a mostly fresh NY Times piece and a brand new Robert Novak Political Report trumpeting the possibility that Hagel might yet enter the race.
During my own hiatus, the NY Times reported:
[W]ith the Republican presidential field turned upside down, and a wide-open battle for the party’s nomination unfolding over the next six months, could there suddenly be room for a candidate who opposes the [Bush] administration’s war policy?
That’s what Senator Chuck Hagel is trying to conclude. Mr. Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, has long been among the loudest Iraq critics in his party, a position that he said was “very, very lonely over the last four years.” His conservative voting record has been overshadowed, in the eyes of many faithful Republicans, by his forceful criticism of how Mr. Bush has handled the war.
These days, Mr. Hagel is no longer feeling so alone.
As he walked across the Capitol, one day after the latest chapter of the Senate war debate ended, he said he is receiving fresh encouragement to consider a presidential candidacy. He intends to study the landscape and disclose his intentions “in the next few weeks.”
“There is no Republican presidential candidate with this point of view. There might be an opening for me on this,” Mr. Hagel said. “I’ve had three very significant Republican fundraisers come to me this week, all of whom said I should look at running.”
Of course, later in the same article, Hagel admits that he marched in July 4th parades in Nebraska expecting to get "booed and called names." It's hard to imagine that Hagel would suddenly find the faith he lacked in his own chances last spring just because his constituents refrained from throwing tomatoes and cabbage at his head.
Still, there definitely seems to be something here, with Novak telling readers:
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) is still considering the possibility of a presidential campaign as an anti-war candidate and soon will make his decision. He could make a splash in the primaries.One can't help wondering if the splash Novak imagines isn't better characterized as a belly flop. It's certainly possible, however, that the Republican establishment for which Novak speaks is starting to wake to just how dire a situation they face in 2008 - to the point that they'd welcome a candidate like Hagel who could never truly be called an "anti-War" candidate but who might be able to pass himself off as "anti-Bush"...despite his being Bush's most consistent supporter in the U.S. Senate.
Assuming such an "anti-Bush" candidate could survive a primary, that would be a pretty strong credential to carry in to the general election when two-thirds of the country actively disapproves of Bush's job performance. Bush would quickly go from lame-duck status to the victim of ritual sacrifice by a Republican Party blaming him for its ruin.
In essence, Hagel might be considered "the Doomsday Option" for a Republican Party trying to get as far away from Bush as possible.
I'll be the first to admit that the Republican Party's current slate of Presidential candidates is a pretty lackluster bunch who are doing themselves few favors with their total failure to articulate any plan for Iraq that isn't rehashed from the Bush Administration's 4 year-old talking points. But, this most recent "Hagel for President" hoopla stretches the limits of political fantasy pretty damn far. One can imagine him angling for a V.P. slot as a Republican to temper another candidate's Iraq idiocy, but Hagel wouldn't be joking that he doesn't know where he belongs politically if he remained a serious contender for the top of the Republican ticket.
Do other opportunities exist on an independent ticket? Sure - in theory. But, more than likely, these recent articles, along with the renewed rumblings at the Hagel for President blog, are little more than Hagel's attempts at maintaining relevance and a place in the public eye to make himself more appealing when the casting call begins for running mates and cabinet positions.
Then again, Hagel's baffled before by doing the unexpected . . . and sometimes the downright idiotic (i.e. the non-announcement national press conference in March). Far be it for the New Nebraska Network to stand in his way if he chooses to provide more entertainment in our little corner of the republic.