May 15, 2007

Hagel To Tilt At Windmills, Bloomberg To Be Sancho Panza

It's not too early to get some laughs from the presidential primaries. I missed this yesterday, but Chuck Hagel has begun mulling over an independent run for the presidency -- and apparently already has a running mate in mind:

The Republican Party has been "hijacked" and led away from its core values, Chuck Hagel, the Republican Senator from Nebraska, said Sunday on Face The Nation.

Hagel, who is still considering his options for the 2008 race, left open the possibility of becoming an independent and sharing a ticket with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"I am not happy with the Republican Party today," Hagel said. "It's been hijacked by a group of single-minded almost isolationists, insulationists, power-projectors."

My friends at Power Line already have had their laughs over the "insulationists" part of Hagel's comment, but the rest of it makes no sense either. Hagel complains about isolationism and power projection? Those are two mutually exclusive states. Hagel should be the last person to complain about isolationism, anyway; he's been fighting against the war in Iraq on the basis of it being an example of neocon adventurism.

The only thing hijacked is Hagel's dictionary, apparently.

Hagel then went from snickers to guffaws when he talked about his potential running mate:

After dining with former New York's mayor, who is also said to be considering a run for president as an independent, Hagel said people might want to consider the two on a ticket.

"We didn't make any deals, but I think Mayor Bloomberg is the kind of individual who should seriously think about this," Hagel said. "He is the mayor of one of the greatest cities on earth. He makes that city work. That's what America wants."

Bloomberg? Isn't that the mayor who has spent the last few years making Rudy Giuliani look like a libertarian? After chasing smokers and gun dealers around the island, Bloomberg wants to spend $200 million on a vanity run. That makes sense for Hagel, who has about zero chance of raising significant funds for even a Ross Perot impact on the campaign.

Hagel's not a bad guy at all, but he's fooling himself if he thinks he has any chance at all for an independent bid. Even as a potential Republican candidate, he barely draws a single percentage point in primary polling. At this rate, he'd have to explode just to reach John Anderson's high-water mark.


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Comments (9)

Posted by richard mcenroe | May 14, 2007 11:54 PM

Hagel's a bad guy. He makes McCain look mainstream GOP

Posted by The Mechanical Eye | May 15, 2007 12:26 AM

It's not that there aren't any Republicans that wouldn't mind pulling out of Iraq, or at least scaling back. There's a paleocon contingent out there, and while I don't count myself among them, I agree with them on the war.

And yet I find Sen. Hagel unsatisfying - he's a chief in search of a movement, trying to artificially rally a nonexistent tribe out in the conservative fields. Worse, like McCain, he's too enamored of media attention, and comes off as a bit of a phony to his would-be supporters, who dislike the war's progress as much as he.

And worse, much of the party, as least for now, isn't ready for him. Too many GOP voters and grassroots are throughly convinced that victory in Iraq is coming this September, and to criticize the war is to spit on the troops. They may change their minds and lose their patience, but if they do I doubt it'll be this man they'll be following

I wouldn't mind a prominent anti-war Republican. But it won't be Chuck Hagel.


Posted by RBMN | May 15, 2007 1:12 AM

I think Hagel has let his emotions overcome his commonsense:

The private war of Chuck and Tom Hagel
By Myra MacPherson,
April 30, 2007


During the same trip [to Vietnam], Tom and Chuck [Hagel] returned to the war zone, to the riverbank where Tom had saved Chuck. The trip was filmed for a documentary. In the footage from the trip to the Mekong Delta, you can see in the brothers' faces a startled sense of being transported in time. Their van drives into the familiar green tangle of the humid jungle, and they roll the windows down. Into the vehicle waft the pungent smells of village coal fires and outdoor privies, and the suffocating heat, all unchanged. Tom is overcome with emotion standing by the river where friends lay dying so many years ago, a river that flowed red with blood -- "like Campbell's tomato soup," he says. In one scene, Tom chokes up and has to walk away from the camera. "It was probably one of the most difficult emotional experiences of my life. Overwhelming. I was consciously, physically trying not to cry much of the time," he says. Back in the United States, far from the scene, talking about the trip and the making of the documentary, Tom's face went ashen recounting how a friend died. "Someone had pulled him out and he was leaning up against a tree with just ..." He motioned to the knee area where the soldier's legs had been blown off. He choked back tears, and there was a long pause. "Whew," he said, clearing his throat. The senator, meanwhile, said that the return to the jungle "was much harder than I thought it would be."


What is different now, Tom said, is his brother's feelings about the meaning of the war: There "has been a sea change for Chuck, and that is about the core of the conflict between us, the Vietnam War, whether it was justified and all of that. He has now come around 180 degrees in his thinking. I never changed my feelings."


In 2007, the brothers are again on the same side about a war. Once again, they got there from very different places. Tom opposed the war in Iraq from the start. As he listened to the 2002 congressional debates about granting the president the authority to go to war, he cheered as his brother the senator expressed serious reservations -- "imposing democracy through force is a roll of the dice." Then Chuck voted with the majority. Said Tom, "He just couldn't pull the trigger." Today, Chuck Hagel, who confirms that he and his brother have "talked about [Iraq] a lot of times," emphasizes that he had "very significant concerns early on." He also takes care to note that Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Joe Biden, like him, voted to authorize the president to go to war. He explains his vote this way: "I believed the president and others who said they would exhaust all diplomatic efforts. Which they did not. They told us they would and they did not." He turned against the war as it became a morass. He saw the parallels with the earlier war he'd been slow to condemn, and soured on it far more quickly.

Posted by docjim505 | May 15, 2007 4:04 AM

I saw part of the "Face the Nation" interview, and I, too, was struck by Hagel's confusion about "insulationists".

What also struck me was the extent to which Bob Schieffer was stroking Hagel's ego. "C'mon. You're gonna run, right? I mean, you'd be just PERFECT. You're gonna announce any day now, aren't you?" No wonder Hagel is the MSM's favorite "Republican": if they feed his ego a little, he'll say anything that they want, and they can go to press with headlines like, "Prominent Republican Criticizes Bush" or "GOP Presidential Hopeful Blasts Iraq Policy".

The sap doesn't even realize that he's being used.

As for a Hagel / Bloomberg ticket... Oh, yeah. THAT will go over great with the average Republican. Such a ticket might do well in the northeast, where Republicans tend to be democrat-lite (witness Lincoln Chafee and the Maine Girls), but I doubt it would do well at all in the rest of the country.

Posted by Gary Gross | May 15, 2007 5:48 AM

As I wrote here, Little Chuckie Hagel thinks that people still take him seriously. He hasn't figured out that he's a laughingstock.

BTW, I've done a little digging into his re-election campaign. What I've found should make every conservative pray that he launches a presidential bid as an independent. Here's a post about the man that would replace Hagel:

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) entered the state’s 2008 Senate race as a potential replacement for Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) if the latter were to retire. But now Bruning says he might try to unseat the Iraq war critic in a primary.

He cited Hagel’s recent vote for a troop withdrawal deadline in Iraq and his suggestions that President Bush could be impeached. Bruning said yesterday that he has been given sufficient reason to consider running for the seat even if the two-term senator aims for a third term.

I think it's time that we start hoping for Hagel's run as an independent.

Posted by MarkD | May 15, 2007 8:34 AM

I welcome a Hagel/Bloomberg run. They will take more votes from the Democrats than the Republicans.

Hagel has stronger antiwar credentials than Hillary. Bloomberg is the secular equivalent of the religious right - the prototypical nanny statist.

Posted by burt | May 15, 2007 8:41 AM

I think this post is out of date. Bloomberg's campaign has leaked that he is setting aside $1 B for his campaign. I think it unlikely he would choose Hagel as a running mate. Of course I have been surprised that the people of Nebraska have chosen Hagel for senator.

Posted by Ripper | May 15, 2007 9:20 AM

The raging alcoholic Hagel would not want Bloomberg as a running mate, Bloomberg (for all his elitist faults) is very pro Israel while Hagel carried water for Hezbollah.

Posted by mw | May 15, 2007 11:34 AM

"Hagel's not a bad guy at all, but he's fooling himself if he thinks he has any chance at all for an independent bid. Even as a potential Republican candidate, he barely draws a single percentage point in primary polling." -ed

Yeah, it is a connundrum. As a Republican he'd win the general election in a walk, pulling from moderates, libertarians, and conservative democrats, but he cannot get past the vocal minority on the right to get the nomination. Not sure what I'll do if he goes Independent. I'm committed to voting Republican for President to maintain divided government, and he'd certainly kill the GOP's chances if he does.

Anderson in the primary is not an apt comparison. Perot in the general election is the right comparison. We know how that turned out.

Interesting what New Yorkers think about Rudy vs. Bloomie. It is not even close. I have also heard that the whole Unity08 effort is really a stalking horse for the Bloomie campaign. If so, that could pave the way for a late independent entry, by doing the hard work of getting on the ballots ahead of time. But I don't understand how Hagel and Bloomberg could pair up on Unity08 - I thought their whole schtick was to get a Republican and a Democrat on the same ticket.