NE-Sen: It's Official, Hagel's Out
by Todd Beeton, Mon Sep 10, 2007 at 09:13:17 AM EDT
As expected, Sen. Chuck Hagel today announced both that he'll retire from the senate at the end of this term and will not run for president in 2008.
"I will not seek a third term in the United States Senate, nor do I intend to be a candidate for any office in 2008," Hagel said. "It has been my greatest honor and privilege to serve my country and represent my fellow Nebraskans in the U.S. Senate. My family and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity and the trust placed in me by the people of Nebraska. It has enriched all of us."
Not only does this news set the stage for yet another possible Democratic pick-up (an announcement by former Nebraska governor and senator Bob Kerrey regarding his possible candidacy may come as early as this week,) but it also fuels a "Republicans are in trouble in 2008" narrative that keeps things like this on people's minds:
Ethics have hurt the GOP's image -- sex-related scandals involving Sens. Larry Craig of Idaho and David Vitter of Louisiana, a federal raid of Sen. Ted Stevens' Alaska home in a bribery investigation. Also, the Senate ethics committee is looking into claims that Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., tried to pressure a federal prosecutor in an election probe of Democrats.
In addition, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens faces a federal corruption investigation, and Idaho Sen. Larry Craig is expected to resign following his arrest in an airport men's room sex sting.
On a more short-term basis, one question that remains in the wake of Warner's and now Hagel's retirement, is will these men, as the well-respected veterans (and not coincidentally, war critics) they are, use their newfound freedom to try to bring about a real change in Iraq policy? Will they step up their criticism of Bush now that we're well into magical September and do more than talk tough (Warner) and vote tough (Hagel) but actually wield their considerable influence to try to change policy? I'm under no illusion that Bush would listen, mind you, but at this point, in the face of Democrats' unwillingness to de-fund, it seems the only thing that might actually have the potential to decrease troop levels in Iraq before what's now becoming magical April is a Republican revolt, something likely only Warner and Hagel have the power to incite.