Chuck Hagel: Reality-Based Republican

I always knew Chuck Hagel was a sexist. Questioning Sarah Palin's qualifications, how dare he!

"She doesn't have any foreign policy credentials," Hagel said in an interview. "You get a passport for the first time in your life last year? I mean, I don't know what you can say. You can't say anything." [...]

"I think they ought to be just honest about it and stop the nonsense about, 'I look out my window and I see Russia and so therefore I know something about Russia,'" he said. "That kind of thing is insulting to the American people."

He went on to veer completely off-message (although Hagel, to his credit, was never one just to spout whatever message was being advanced from on high.) But still, check it out:

"But I do think in a world that is so complicated, so interconnected and so combustible, you really got to have some people in charge that have some sense of the bigger scope of the world," Hagel said. "I think that's just a requirement."

So is Palin qualified to be president?

"I think it's a stretch to, in any way, to say that she's got the experience to be president of the United States," Hagel said.

If Hagel was thinking about endorsing Barack Obama for president before McCain picked Palin, it would seem from these remarks that he may be even more likely to do so now. That would just be a huge get for Barack. I'm sure there's immense pressure on his from both sides. Come on Chuck. You know you want to.

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Reed: congressional delegation visited troops, Iraq hospital

On Face the Nation, Jack Reed tells the world that Obama and the other Senators did visit troops - while they were traveling as a congressional delegation.

Reed: Senator Hagel, Senator Obama and I visited the combat support hospital at Baghdad to thank those nurses, those doctors, to see patients that were there, to bring a bit of greetings from home and profound thanks. That should be in the ad that Senator McCain is running. I think Senator Obama made a very wise choice. Any suggestion that a visit to a military hospital would be political, he made the wise choice not to go. But when you were in Baghdad we made a point at the end of a very exhausting day to go in and see these magnificent young Americans and those doctors and nurses that give such tremendous care without a lot of fanfare, just to say thanks. He did it-the same thing. We went-we didn't stay in Kabul. We went to Jalalabad to see the soldiers of the 173rd. We stopped in Basra to see our soldiers down there. We went into Anbar province to see soldiers there. That is a completely distorted, and, I think, inappropriate advertisement.

And Hagel agrees that the ad was flat out wrong.

CHUCK HAGEL: Let me add to that. As you know, Bob, the congressional delegation that you referred to ended when we parted in Jordan. At that point, it was a political trip for Senator Obama. I think it would have been inappropriate for him and certainly he would have been criticized by the McCain people and the press and probably should have been if on a political trip in Europe paid for by political funds-not the taxpayers-to go, essentially, then and be accused of using our wounded men and women as props for his campaign. I think the judgment there-and I don't know the facts by the way. I know what you've just read. No one has asked me about it other than what you've just asked about. But I think it would be totally inappropriate for him on a campaign trip to go to a military hospital and use those soldiers as props. So I think he probably, based on what I know, he did the right thing. We saw troops everywhere we went on the congressional delegation. We went out of our way to see those troops. We wanted to see those troops. And that's part of our job to see those troops, by the way, and listen to those troops, Bob. And we did.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think that ad was appropriate?

CHUCK HAGEL: I do not think it was appropriate.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You do not.

CHUCK HAGEL: I do not. pt-from-face-the-nation/

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Republican group using Hagel to turn Jews against Obama

Following up on Jonathan Singer's post about Barack Obama and the Jewish vote, and Josh Orton's post from last week about Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel joining Obama on an upcoming visit to Iraq, I wanted to let people know that the Republican Jewish Coalition is trying to use Hagel to drive a wedge between Obama and Jewish voters.

My 60-something Jewish cousin in Florida included me on a mass e-mail forwarding this press release from the RJC.

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The Case for Chuck Hagel

Good evening everyone!

I am going to lay out the case for Chuck Hagel as our Vice Presidential nominee.  I want to be clear about something, though.  I am not endorsing Chuck Hagel for this position.  I am warmer to him than most here but I do not think he would be the best choice.  I am writing this diary because no one hereabouts is willing or able to understand why Senator Hagel would be a compelling choice from a certain point of view.  I don't want to get attacked for writing this.  Instead, remember that I'm trying to foster some useful dialog and maybe broaden some perspectives.  You don't have to agree with the premise of this diary to be better for having read it.

Interested?  Read on...

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Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq

The WSJ confirms:

While it is standard practice for such trips--known as CODELS, or congressional delegations--to be bipartisan, in this highly charged election year it is likely to raise eyebrows that the retiring Nebraskan senator--a prominent Iraq War critic--is the Republican expected to join the Democratic Party's presidential nominee on what is sure to be a closely watched visit to the region.

Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Sen. Hagel has not yet endorsed a candidate in the race, and he has offered kind words for both Obama and Republican rival Sen. John McCain, although the two Republicans differ greatly on the war.

Not only is it standard practice for CODELs to be bipartisan, it's actually required. So it's normal that at least one Republican would join Obama on the trip.

Hagel's a great choice. Like McCain, Hagel served in Vietnam. But as a decorated Sergeant in the Army infantry, he likely came away with a much different perspective on the war than John McCain.

Back in November of 2007, Hagel penned an op-ed in the Washington Post, laying out the tragic reality of our decision to invade Iraq:

The time for more U.S. troops in Iraq has passed. We do not have more troops to send and, even if we did, they would not bring a resolution to Iraq. Militaries are built to fight and win wars, not bind together failing nations. We are once again learning a very hard lesson in foreign affairs: America cannot impose a democracy on any nation -- regardless of our noble purpose.

We have misunderstood, misread, misplanned and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam. Honorable intentions are not policies and plans. Iraq belongs to the 25 million Iraqis who live there. They will decide their fate and form of government.
It is not too late. The United States can still extricate itself honorably from an impending disaster in Iraq. The Baker-Hamilton commission gives the president a new opportunity to form a bipartisan consensus to get out of Iraq. If the president fails to build a bipartisan foundation for an exit strategy, America will pay a high price for this blunder -- one that we will have difficulty recovering from in the years ahead.

To squander this moment would be to squander future possibilities for the Middle East and the world. That is what is at stake over the next few months.

Obama and Hagel's trip to Iraq will present a tremendous opportunity not just for Obama's campaign specifically, but for the larger narrative about the reality in Iraq. As McCain stumps with Lieberman to perpetuate the original Iraq lie, two different Senators with a much firmer grasp on reality will see the conditions first-hand, and return to the States to a hungry audience. What they say and how they say it could bring us closer to finally ending this war.

Hagel is retiring after his current term expires - there are few Republicans like him left.

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