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...

The notion of splitting the Presidency and Vice Presidency between two parties is not new.  In fact, that's sort of how this all got started.  It didn't work very well for a variety of reasons but the idea is honorable and does serve some purpose.

At this point the country is split something like fifty fifty between the two parties (well, exactly what the split is we'll find out in November).  For as long as I can recall it seems as though the losing party feels disconnected and disempowered for the duration of a presidency.  This isn't entirely healthy.  Instead of participating and trying to improve the quality of policy they spend four to eight years seeking to destroy the President or make life as hard for him as possible.

Lots of folks here recoil at even the suggestion of putting a Republican on the ticket.  I understand, and to a degree, share that concern.  Most of us are Democrats because we believe in Democratic policy goals (though we all vary on our levels of orthodoxy).  Policy matters.  Policy matters a lot.  I do not deny this.  I would, however, like to explore this problem a little.

First off, how much power does a Vice President have to have over policy?  Nearly zero.  Dick Cheney is an atypical Veep, and if we're lucky he'll be the last of his kind.  Usually a Vice President is either a hood orniment or he gets to direct an issue or two.  That's it.  Sure, he can cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate, but how likely is that to happen with the great year it's shaping up to be?  I'm not saying it won't ever happen, but it isn't anything as likely as it is now.

Second, a lot of folks fear that putting someone like Chuck Hagel on the ticket would be setting him up to be President in 2016 (or sooner if, God forbid, something were to happen).  There is no silver bullet to this problem, but it is a problem we can at least partially solve.  If Chuck Hagel wants the job he could agree to vow publically that he will never run for President.  He could even include language along the lines of "If I ever run please remember that I would be a liar to do so.  I've given my word to America and I will keep it." If the statement is clear and deliberate enough it will serve as a deterrent to later mind-changing.  That does not deal with a potential caretaker term for Hagel should Obama be unable to serve out a term, of course.  The most I can suggest would be if Hagel were to publically promise to "Honor Senator Obama and the will of the voters should I be forced to serve.  If I am forced to assume the Presidency I will govern as near to how Senator Obama would have, and I will not seek my own term." It isn't bulletproof, and I'm not suggesting that it is, but it is possible.  He could also promise to resign if he ever becomes President, but I'm not so sure about such an idea.  I don't seriously entertain it.

So far as I can tell, Chuck Hagel is a man of his word.  He's retiring from the Senate despite the fact that he won his re-election in 2002 with 83% of the vote and would almost certainly win again if he wanted to.  He promised in 1996 he would serve no more than two terms.  He is keeping his word.

Now, what about the argument, as some here have made, that having a Republican on the ticket waters down Obama's Democratic appeal?  Does this suggest that a Democrat cannot win without a Republican to run our defense or foreign policy shops?  I'm sure that some would argue it, but it only means that if Senator Obama allows others to frame the issue thusly.  Obama should simply say that Chuck Hagel has shown better judgment than almost anyone else in government and he will value his counsel.

Don't forget that Chuck Hagel has suggested he may leave the Republican Party anyway.  If he becomes an independent he should be less unpalatable to those here.  He would retain his background and having him on the ticket would be an incredibly powerful bipartisan gesture.

But why Chuck Hagel in particular?  Well, read his wiki.  He's done work with the American Red Cross.  He co-founded a successful telecom.  He's tended bar and been a radio broadcaster.  He left his job at the VA when the VA director wanted to cut funding for veterans programs (including Agent Orange) and referred to veterans groups as "greedy." 

He's served our country in war yet remembered the lessons that only an enlisted grunt could learn.  He won't sell out our boys and girls for a questionable mission with idiotic execution.  He has taken a principled position on the Iraq War that gave him no political benefit and has cost him much support among his own party.

Chuck Hagel is a good man with sound judgment.  I disagree with him on most of the social issues but I agree with him on foreign policy and on defense.  He's in favor of immigration reform that would benefit those already here and those who wish to come.  He's reasonable.

Some good Hagel quotes (from the wikipedia article):

In November 2005, Hagel made a much-publicized statement: "To question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your government is unpatriotic." This was in reference to the lack of open debate in Congress regarding the Iraq War, and in defense of his assertion that the United States should withdraw its troops.

In December 2005, in reference to Bush, the GOP, and the PATRIOT Act, Hagel made a much-publicized statement: "I took an oath of office to the Constitution, I didn't take an oath of office to my party or my president."

In January 2006, Hagel took issue with Karl Rove over controversial statements the White House advisor made concerning the mindset of Republicans and Democrats. Hagel said, "Well, I didn't like what Mr. Rove said, because it frames terrorism and the issue of terrorism and everything that goes with it, whether it's the renewal of the Patriot Act or the NSA wiretapping, in a political context." He also said that "dark clouds" are hanging over the Republican party", and "If you look at the environment and the atmospherics politically in this town, read any poll. The sixth year of a governing party usually ... is not good ... the country is tired, a lot of complications in these international issues, we're at war."

Hagel further criticized the Bush administration, saying, "National security is more important than the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. And to use it to try and get someone elected will ultimately end up in defeat and disaster for that political party."

In July 2006, Hagel again took issue with the Bush administration, this time on its handling of the Israel-Lebanon issue saying "The sickening slaughter on both sides must end and it must end now. President Bush must call for an immediate cease-fire. This madness must stop."

Having someone like Chuck Hagel on the ticket means that Barack Obama seriously intends to govern all Americans and not just Democrats.  If he were to pick Hagel he'd be swinging for the fences on his core message of post-partisanship.  If it works it would be an example for future generations of how we can work together.

It's an interesting idea.  It would be consistent with Obama's life and his message.  Besides, doing this would almost certainly force McCain to pick Lieberman, which would only help us.  Besides which I'd love to see Lieberman lose again.

Flame away!  I'd rather have Hagel in the cabinet but there is an argument for having him on the ticket.  I thought somebody should make it.

Tags: Bipartisanship, Chuck Hagel, victory (all tags)




For being willing to make the unpopular case?

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-12 06:11PM | 0 recs
I'll give you a tip, but I disagree

Hagel is essentially the anti-Lieberman.  Whereas Lieberman is "right on everything except the war," Hagel is wrong on everything except the war.  But neither Lieberman nor anti-Lieberman should get a spot on the ticket.

The official duties of the Vice President are mostly ceremonial, and they don't wield any particular political capital of their own, but the VP is also unofficially expected to serve as a sort of policy evangelist for the President.  This is pretty evident in the Vice Presidential debates, for example.

What would the VP debate look like, with Hagel and, say, Romney up on the stage?

"Yes, I agree with my opponent."  "My opponent is right..."  "Yes, the Democrats really have got it all wrong."  We'd have to rely on the debate moderator to keep the questions focused on Iraq to ferret out any differences; and we know how reliable those debate moderators are.

I think Hagel would be a great choice for a cabinet position, though.  Cabinet members aren't expected to be policy evangelists, and they're not necessarily supposed to be yes-men either.  They're supposed to be advisors, and there's certainly a lot that Hagel could advise on.  Not only does he have military experience, but he also has experience working with his fellow Republicans in the Senate, who we will probably still have to work with, since a 61-vote majority seems very unlikely.

by BishopRook 2008-07-12 06:19PM | 0 recs
Re: I'll give you a tip, but I disagree

Disagreement is fine (and on this one, expected).  I just wanted someone to make the argument here.  

Echo chamber and all that.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-12 06:21PM | 0 recs
Re: I'll give you a tip, but I disagree

I enjoyed your diary. I really don't care what people call themeselves Democrat,Republican whatever I want action on issues I care about. I hope Hagel is chosen for a high level position. In fact I'm sure Obama will appoint him to something. Rec  

by Politicalslave 2008-07-13 01:34AM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel


by CAchemist 2008-07-12 06:13PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

There's absolutely no way you read my diary that fast.

I say this respectfully:

Fuck off, mate.  Read it and comment.  Disagree if you like.  How dare you disrespect me by replying like that without even reading it?

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-12 06:14PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

I will read it and post something substantive after I finish the dishes.  I was just posting my gut reaction that this is a horrible, horrible idea.

Back in 10 minutes.

by CAchemist 2008-07-12 06:17PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

Calm down, dude.  You opened yourself up to flames and even said you were expecting them.

by BishopRook 2008-07-12 06:21PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

I apologize for my anger.  He responded within 30 seconds of my posting it.  Kinda pissed me off.

Flames are fine, so long as they are informed flames.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-12 06:21PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

Dude, I respect you, and I'm with him. "NO!" is sufficient.

by vcalzone 2008-07-12 06:56PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

You ought to read the latest post on where Nate makes the point that if Obama goes centrist with his VP candidate, he risks cementing the flip-flop narrative. The time he had to reach out and get more voters via his Veep choice is over, because he's already made that move to the extent that he has gotten press attention for it. He even makes the point that Wesley Clark would still be a good candidate right now, because even though he was once thought of as a safe pick, he's now a defiant one.

by vcalzone 2008-07-12 07:02PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

this is totally not TR worthy.  He was right I didn't read the diary.  Cut him some slack.

by CAchemist 2008-07-12 06:59PM | 0 recs
Nice diary...

While I disagree sharply with you on the selection of Hagel (certainly social issues are very near and dear to my heart), I can appreciate how you can make the case, and honestly, I think Hagel's a good man, just misguided on some key social issues in today's world. I wouldn't want him there. He has been a good Republican, however, he's just so far right socially that the pick is undesirable. With that being said, tip'ed and rec'd for an excellent, well thought out diary, no matter how much I disagree.

by zcflint05 2008-07-12 06:21PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

I respect you for making the case, but there are plenty of other people Obama could choose if he wanted to appeal to the center.  Kaine, Bloomberg, Sebelius, etc.

Hagel's anti-war stance is pretty much the only thing he agrees with Obama on and I'm not going to buy any pledge that he would govern like a Democrat in the tragic event that he would become president.

Sorry, but that would be absolutely unacceptable to me.  No way.

I'm still pulling for Joe Biden.

by psychodrew 2008-07-12 06:30PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

While I would still support Obama if he chose Hagel, I would agree that there are better options.  I said as much in the diary.

Thanks for the respect, though.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-12 06:32PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

First, sorry for commenting earlier without reading.

Second, NO!

I am sure Chuck Hagel is a very nice and honorable man, but I am positive he is a social conservative and for me that is where the conversation ends.  It really is that simple.  

Further, if we have ever have one chance in the near future to move the whole country to the left, it is right now.  We should take it.  Democratic party ID is up and the republican brand is trashed so we have one chance to stop the country being framed from by the right.  Even during the Clinton administration, all agendas and policies were viewed via the views of the republican party.

Now is the chance for women's equal rights.
Now is the chance for gay equality.
Now is the chance to say Democrats are better at national defense and attacking before thinking is not best.

Chuck Hagel will not help us with any of these things.  He will only help frame the debate relative to the views of the right.  And I say screw that.

by CAchemist 2008-07-12 06:44PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

Are you open to having him campaign for Obama?  What about putting him in the cabinet?

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-12 06:46PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

Yes but only if he is used to point out that Republican positions on national defense are horrible.

If he is used to strengthen Obama's social appeal by talking about any social conservative issues, I will flip out.

We do not have to and shouldn't move to the center this year.  I know we will but it still irks me.

by CAchemist 2008-07-12 06:53PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

In a million years I couldn't imagine him using him like that.  If Hagel hits the stump it'll be on the war, and on judgment.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-12 07:12PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

And here's the case against him:

0% score from NARAL
100% from National Right to Life
14% from the League of Conservation Voters
A from the NRA

Shall I go on?

No offense, but this idea is preposterous. He's a single-issue moderate. When not speaking about Iraq, he's extremely conservative. This is the guy you want one heartbeat away from the presidency??

by Johnny Gentle Famous Crooner 2008-07-12 06:50PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

For Democrats who think the economy and social issues are important, this would be a very bad choice. VERY, VERY BAD. That comprises about 80% of all Democrats.

by vcalzone 2008-07-12 06:55PM | 0 recs
Good Case made for Chuck Hagel. Rec'd...

But sorry cannot bring myself to agree to the point for putting Chuck on the ticket when has a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of nearly 85% (his 2007 ACU rating is 79). Incidently McCain's lifetime ACU rating is 82% less than Hagel. However given Chuck's message on the War, I think he would make a very good candidate for an Obama administration position.

You have a much better case for Chuck's twin brother Tom Hagel who is a fellow Vietnam vet and a lifelong Democrat... 8-9327-424D-B601-FEBA7826ECBE.htm

Read the Salon's article on "Private Wars of the Hagel Brothers".. 4/30/hagel_brothers/print.html

by louisprandtl 2008-07-12 06:57PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

Hagel has one thing going for him and that's his stance on Iraq. He is wrong on just about everything  else.

He gets mostly zeros from NARAL and planned parenthood.

He gets lousy marks on social issues, women's issues, family issues, labor issues, and other so-called social issues. He gets decent grades from conservative orgs and failing ones from liberal orgs. On overall social issues he gets a zero from the national association of social workers, among others.

The Cato institute loves him on many issues. He favors business over labor on most issues. The ABA ranks him at zero. He's all over the place on health issues, but generally scores at 50% or less, sometimes much less. If it wasn't for his Iraq war stance he wouldn't rate very well on foreign affairs, either.

Overall, Hagel is a Nebraska conservative, although not a bat-shit crazy one, he's still far right of where most Dems stand.

Here's Vote Smart's compilation of his ratings by various organizations. ry.php?can_id=231

and here is his voting record - ?can_id=231

Notice he dodged the equal pay vote and voted no on the unemployment benefit extension. He also voted no on sCHIP.

Sorry, I don't want him anywhere near the presidency.

by MS01 Indie 2008-07-12 07:28PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

More than fair.  I just wanted the argument out there.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-12 07:35PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

I know, you were only trying to open up a dialog. That's why I responded the way I did. You aren't the first Dem to voice this idea and probably won't be the last. I just think it's a bad idea. Choosing Hagel would be one of the few ways Obama could cool my ardor for getting out to vote in November.

I'm still pulling for Clark, Clinton, or Edwards. I would be happy with any of the three. Hagel might work well as Sec. State, but there are other good options out there among Dems. Maybe something to do with the Farm Bureau would fit him better.

by MS01 Indie 2008-07-12 07:41PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

He's already worked at the VA and frankly we could use somebody with gravitas there right now.  I know it sounds pretty low-caliber given his credentials but we've got a lot of wounded and messed up vets coming home.

I think somebody like Hagel would give that work the seriousness it deserves.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-12 07:45PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

Even there, in the VA, he doesn't get great marks. Iraq and Afganistan Veterans group gave him a D+. Disabled Vets gave him a 60% rating for the last one, but he got mostly zeros from them in prior years. Not exactly what I would call a good pick.

by MS01 Indie 2008-07-12 07:53PM | 0 recs
Good Discussion

I for one would like to see a Centrist or even Republican on the ticket. I know many on the Left are eager to swing the pendulum as hard as possible, but I'd like to dampen that particular wildly-swaying device (sorry folks).

Course, I think Mike Gravel would be a fun VP, but that's just me... ;-)

by chrisblask 2008-07-12 07:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Good Discussion

Problem is that (as Nate from FiveThirtyEight put it) "it now becomes more important for Obama to avoid a selection that appears like a centrist pander".

by vcalzone 2008-07-12 08:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Good Discussion

I've been out of the political loop for a couple weeks, mostly, so not sure what the view of the moment is.

But the basic issues of the GOP sucking so much wind in every direction and McCain being perhaps the least inspiring presidential candidate in living memory make it seem pretty unlikely that the Left is going to desert the Democratic party in November.  I think Obama has a good chance to actually do what he has been campaigning on - bring the country together, not just the party.

That doesn't mean a non-Dem VP, but at the very least a multiparty cabinet might be a good call.  A Far Left VP would, imho, be a bad call.


by chrisblask 2008-07-12 08:12PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

Hagel would be totally unacceptable. Except for the war, the guy's a down-the-line Republican.

If he wants to campaign for Obama, great. Send him to Nebraska and he may help Obama win an electoral vote or two there. Hell, I'd even be okay with him in a cabinet position (though preferably NOT SecDef - it would just reinforce the message that Democrats can't handle national security). But not as VP. No way.

by Angry White Democrat 2008-07-12 07:46PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

Why don't we make McCain Obama's VP instead?  I think, overall, he's less reactionary.

I personally will abstain if Obama selects Hagel as his VP.  I've voted Democratic every election for 35 years and I'm not going to change that to vote for a ticket that includes Hagel.

by markjay 2008-07-12 08:25PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

I agree. Obama picking Hagel for VP would be the one and only thing that would absolutely make me not vote for him. I'm angry about Obama's FISA vote, but he'll still get my vote and my money, but Hagel on the ticket would be the end for me.

by Not the only Dem in KS 2008-07-13 06:31AM | 0 recs
Will Never Happen

Obama is a great admirer of Lincoln, so I'm guessing he knows what happened the only time a president put together a unity ticket (I'm not counting the earliest years of the Republic, btw, when the also ran in the presidential race became the VP).

Lincoln got shot, Andrew Johnson became president, and this basically ended all chances that the Republicans would come up with a coherent strategy for Reconstruction.  Simply put, they never trusted Johnson (they admired his service during the war, respected him for his talents, etc., but at the end of the day he was the Democrat who should have never become president).

The main job of the Vice President in our system is to be a president-in-waiting in case disaster strikes.  If you can't imagine voting for the person as president, he or she should never be VP (and the Dems would never nominate Hagel).

by IncognitoErgoSum 2008-07-12 08:25PM | 0 recs
i'd rather stick my finger down my throat

by sepulvedaj3 2008-07-12 08:28PM | 0 recs
Chuck Hagel ownership of, CEO of voting machine co

Please Google Chuck Hagel, ES&S, or Chuck Hagel, American Information Systems, or Chuck Hagel, Election Systems & Software.

More disturbing still than the idea that this is the second presidential election in a row that has raised a trial balloon of putting a Republican on as running mate for a Democrat (This was raised in 2004 as the possibility of Kerry choosing McCain, but abandoned after the public rebuked that idea) -- but yet more disturbing is that a guy who had up to $5 million in ownership of the nation's biggest voting machine company, who had been on its board of directors and was its CEO up until 2 weeks before announcing his run for Senate, would even be discussed as a potential running mate for anyone without saying, in the same breath, "that is, if you want the voting machine industry in bed with the candidate."

Oh, and by the way, look hard for Chuck Hagel's disclosure of his position as CEO of the voting machine company (which counted about 80 % of his own votes) -- on his personal financial disclosure documents. He failed to disclose it.

Details, citations here: r-3.pdf

Bev Harris
Founder - Black Box Voting

by BevHarris 2008-07-12 10:47PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

if Obama picks Hagel, Hillary delegates should vote for her for VP at the convention. simple as that.

by Todd Beeton 2008-07-12 11:27PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

This is the post of the day.

by colebiancardi 2008-07-13 06:22PM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

Honestly, there is no scenario possible in which Obama gets my vote after he picks a Republican for VP that has voted against the environment, voted against SCHIP, voted for tax cuts for the wealthy and voted against raising the minimum wage.
Here  is my comment from Friday, when it was mentioned that Hagel was going with Obama to Iraq:

Unfortunately, aside from the war, Hagel is pretty much a standard GWB Republican.
On the environment, he is ranked 94th out of 98 at Progressive Punch, 86th out of 99 on health care, 95th out of 99 on fair taxation, and rates 68th out of 99 overall.
Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Just because Hagel agrees with Obama on the war, that doesn't in any way, shape or form qualify him to be VP under a Democratic president.
There are FAR too many more qualified Democrats that actually support our platform, that would be a better choice than Chuck Hagel, and that includes Joe Lieberman. Yes, even Lieberman is more liberal than Chuck Hagel.

by skohayes 2008-07-13 05:06AM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

Hey, I've got an idea. Why not pick Dick Cheney? He knows all the right people. Has lots of experience. Has an in with Halliburton and KBR. Gee, that makes a lot of sense.

by MS01 Indie 2008-07-13 07:29AM | 0 recs
There is no case for Hagel

in my mind.

I agree.....he is a conservative on social issues.  And for many of us SOCIAL ISSUES trump foreign policy.  
I understand for some here the "war" is THE issue and that Hillary's vote on the war powers issue is what turned you.  For many of us, the opposite is true.  Issues that affect us daily....feeding our children, having decent healthcare for those we care for (children and elderly parents); education and all the issues connected to the economy are the ones that need to be dealt with.

I was against the war, but the fact is that foreign policy, for me, has no absolutes, is more complicated for reasons that are obvious (cultural differences, religious influences etc).   For example, I think what happens in theocratic countries is despicable.   Women and children are often victimized in the most horrid, violent ways in countries that we are supposedly friendly with as well as with the so called "evil" countries of Bushco.  I admit I have issues with how we have to ignore the internal workings of other countries.  A part of me wonders why we think it is acceptable to "mind our own business" when despots kill and maim their own citizens.  At the same time, I know war is not the answer either.

But I am real clear on social issues.  Hagel and those like him will never be acceptable to me.  We may not be able to do much for some in foreign countries who live in despicable conditions.  But the policies of our own government SHOULD always be for the benefit and welfare of ALL citizens and no matter how you slice it, social conservatives are all about ignoring the poor, the homeless, those without trust fund DNA while rewarding those already with an advantage; as well social conservatives are about telling others how to behave when it comes to things like sexual preference, personal decisions about private life, and deciding for the rest of us what is good and what is evil.  Unacceptable.

by Jjc2008 2008-07-13 08:43AM | 0 recs
Re: The Case for Chuck Hagel

sorry, but no.  That would  be the deal breaker for me and I would assume millions of loyal democrats who do not want a republican on the ticket for the DEMOCRATIC party.  We just won't vote.

look, I know Obama "attracted" a lot of republicans who were pissed off at their own party, but there is no need to turn the democratic party into a republican party, which you would if a republican came in on OUR ticket.

there is no case to make Hagel VEEP, for crying out loud.

that is one heartbeat away from being president and that would mean Hagel would be prez - a REPUBLICAN president.

The War issue is only a small fraction compared to all of the other issues I have concerns with.  And Hagel doesn't address them

We already have our anti-war candidate and that is Obama.  

by colebiancardi 2008-07-13 06:22PM | 0 recs


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