Tuesday, January 30, 2007


The Hagel Hagiography

Mickey Kaus today slyly deconstructs the mainstream media's (and by extension the liberal blogosphere's) recent hero-worshipping of Republican Anti-Warrior Chuck Hagel, by asking this provocative question about the Nebraskan's much-hyped bravery:
Why, exactly, is Sen. Chuck Hagel showing "courage" in conspicuously denouncing the Iraq War now that virtually the entire American establishment has reached that same conclusion--now that Hagel is virtually assured of getting hero treatment from Brian Williams and Tim Russert and long favorable profiles in the newsweeklies?
To be fair to Hagel -- who I have long liked and admired for the atypically blunt, common-sense, and intellectually-honest way he does business -- it does take some guts to break this openly/vociferously from his party, no matter the timing, in such a tribally-driven culture. The fact is, playing footsy with Ted Kennedy and company on such a big issue is widely seen within Republican circles as a rank act of disloyalty, and that comes with practical consequences within the Senate, which is run on personal courtesies. Just ask my old boss, Joe Lieberman, who has often been in similar circumstances.

But that said, the new Hagel hagiography is a bit out of control -- and out of proportion. As Kaus, points out, the real act of courage would have been to been to actively oppose the war when it made a difference -- and before public opinion had swung so wildly against it.
[I]f Hagel really thought the war was a disaster, sending those real men and women into a pointless "meat grinder," there were many things he could have done, aside from giving snippy quotes on Meet the Press, to oppose it. He could have given speeches like the one he gave last week, for example. He could have challenged Bush in 2004. But that might have ended his career! Instead, it looks to me as if he sniped and quipped up to the point where it could do him fatal damage if the war went well. At the same time, given the sniping and quipping, the MSM's surprise that 'even Republican Senator Hagel' opposes Bush is entirely inauthentic.

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