Why I Love Sen. Chuck Hagel

I can’t say anything except Senator Chuck Hagel has become my favorite Republican. My man served it up the way I like it. He went off on the GOP and the loud mouth of the right, Rush Limbaugh.

“You know, I wish Rush Limbaugh and others like that would run for office,” a sarcastic Hagel continued. They have so much to contribute and so much leadership and they have an answer for everything. And they would be elected overwhelmingly. [The truth is] they try to rip everyone down and make fools of everybody but they don’t have any answers.”

“Eighty-seven percent of the American people said America is going in the wrong direction,” said Hagel. “You don’t need to know another number about anything, and so the election was pretty predictable: the American people don’t like what is going on… they want us to start doing what leaders are expected to do, address the problems, find some consensus to governing. Get along. There will be disagreements, sure… but in the end we can’t hold ourselves captives to this raw, partisan, political paralysis.”

But the truly memorable bits came when — unrestrained by formalities — he deployed a sharp tongue while riffing on the GOP. Reflecting on the Bush administration, Hagel, one of the earliest critics of the Iraq war, held back few punches.

“Yes, there have been some differences and some pretty significant ones in [the Republican Party]. But when you ask the question: ‘Has [our approach] worked? I don’t think many people will say it has worked,” he said, adding later: “God knows I would never question the quality of our elected officials, that’s why I’m so popular with many of them.”

The main thrust of his critiques was aimed not at any individual specifically, but at a closed-off mindset that he believed had taken hold of Republican politics and, consequently, the GOP’s approach to foreign policy. “Engagement is not appeasement,” he said. “Diplomacy is not retreat. Somehow too many in this town and in this country have disconnected all of that.”

Later in the question-and-answer session, he offered an example to illustrate this quip, gently mocking those officials and voters who, for one reason or another, had problems with things from France or people who were Muslim.

“There is always going to be a certain know-nothing element to democracy,” said Hagel. “That is their choice. But in a world that is so vitally interconnected, it does help if you try to understand the other side… Ask them: ‘What is it that scares you about the French so much?”

AND THE CHURCH SAID…

Additional Resources:

CNN – 11/18/08 “Hagel takes aim at Limbaugh, Senate colleagues

Huffington Post – 11/19/08 “Hagel, Unrestrained, Lashes Into Bush, Rush & The GOP

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