Saturday, September 8, 2007

"Maverick" Folding His Cards

The New York Times reports:

Senator Chuck Hagel, the Nebraska Republican and outspoken critic of the Iraq war who had been mulling a run for president, will retire at the end of his term in early 2009 and will not run for the White House, aides said on Saturday.

Hagel Will Not Seek Re-Election to His Senate Seat

I've discussed Hagel's outspokenness before. As we say here at SnS, actions trump words, and Hagel's supported the Bush Administration's policies with nearly every vote.

So what brought this on? As the quote states, he's not going to run for President. Perhaps he's contemplating a run in 2012, but challenging a sitting President is usually an uphill battle. In my lifetime, only Ronald Reagan managed to pull it off. So you have to wonder.

The news isn't all that good for progressives, though. Bob Kerrey has announced he'll run for the now-open seat:

Former Senator Bob Kerrey, a Nebraska Democrat, who has been president of The New School University in New York City since leaving office in 2001, has said that he might return to Nebraska to run for office again. Mr. Kerrey is also a former governor of Nebraska.

Hagel Will Not Seek Re-Election to His Senate Seat

I'm not sure how I feel about that. As this article shows, Kerrey hasn't given the military a blank check in the past. As politicaljunkie2008 points out at DailyKos, he is fairly progressive by Nebraska standards. Still, there's lots to be concerned about. His selection of Senator John McCain to be the commencement speaker last year would seem to demonstrate that he's out of touch with the country's feelings on Iraq. Here's a quote from Kerrey's recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal:

With these facts on the scales, what does your conscience tell you to do? If the answer is nothing, that it is not our responsibility or that this is all about oil, then no wonder today we Democrats are not trusted with the reins of power. American lawmakers who are watching public opinion tell them to move away from Iraq as quickly as possible should remember this: Concessions will not work with either al Qaeda or other foreign fighters who will not rest until they have killed or driven into exile the last remaining Iraqi who favors democracy.

The Left's Iraq Muddle

The title of this article is ironic, to say the least. In it, Kerrey presents a confused muddle of ideas straight out of the neocon book of paranoid delusions. What if, Kerrey asks while trying to defend his foolish support for the invasion, somehow Saddam Hussein had been overthrown by Shiite or Kurdish insurgents? What if, somehow, Al Qaeda had then taken over?

Well, gee, Senator, what if somehow some froth-mouthed idiot invaded the country without a plan for its aftermath, and then Al Qaeda took over? We can play far-fetched hypothetical games until the cows come home, but the important thing is the present situation, so why not discuss that and leave the silly "what ifs" to the idiots who created this mess in the first place? The plain fact is that Al Qaeda didn't have a presence in Iraq when Saddam was in charge, and it probably wouldn't have if there had been any stable government. The last thing we are likely to see in Iraq now, aside from 24 hours a day of electrical power, is a stable government. How about dealing with the reality?

So, on the whole, I don't see Kerrey replacing Hagel as a big plus. If we somehow manage to extricate ourselves from Iraq, and don't get ourselves into another mess thanks to ridiculous hypothetical thinking, Kerrey's a much more progressive presence than Hagel.

Ask me how I feel next November.

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