I don't get it. The man speaks one way and votes another. Who the hell is he? I really don't get it.
If I was voting for the Chuck Hagel I hear, I would vote for him for president. If I was voting for the Chuck Hagel I see on the record, he'd be the very last person in Congress I would ever vote for. Who is this man?
If you read this interview with Hagel in GQ or hear him excoriating the administration and his Republican colleagues on the Senate floor, you think he is a godsend. A Republican who thinks clearly and acts boldly. Something we haven't seen in six years.
But then you look at his voting record, and it is abysmal. Did you know that in 2006 there was not one senator in the country who voted with the Bush administration more than Chuck Hagel? That's not in 2003, where he might argue - and he does argue - he was deceived. That was a month ago!
I wrote back in 2005 that Chuck Hagel should replace Don Rumsfeld as the Secretary of Defense. I had faith in Senator Hagel. He knew what he was talking about. But it turned out he certainly didn't vote that way. And since I wrote that he has not had one encouraging vote, until the committee vote on escalation last week.
Hagel even supported John Bolton for UN ambassador, full-well knowing how loathsome he was. There was not a hideous Bush/Cheney proposal that Chuck Hagel didn't love voting for in all the time between then and now.
Chuck Hagel said the Bush administration "doctored" the intelligence so that they could push us into war with Iraq. When asked if he regrets his vote for the war, he replied:
"But the more I look back on this, the more I think that the administration knew there was some real hard question whether he really had any WMD. In January of 2003, if you recall, the inspectors at the IAEA, who knew more about what Saddam had than anybody, said, "Give us two more months before you go to war, because we don't think there's anything in there." They were the only ones in Iraq. We hadn't been in there. We didn't know what the hell was in there. And the president wouldn't do it! So to answer your question-Do I regret that vote? Yes, I do regret that vote."
These are much stronger words than Hillary Clinton or practically any Democratic frontrunner has used against the administration. In the GQ interview he does everything but accuse of the administration of out right lying and warmongering. This is a Chuck Hagel who is honest and brave. This is a Chuck Hagel I love.
Since the beginning of the Bush administration, Senator Hagel has voted with the Bush administration 95% of the time! This is a man who lacks all courage and conviction - a man who would do anything the president tells him for the sake political convenience. This is a man who puts his party above his country. This is a Chuck Hagel I hate.
Who is this guy?
"We have always been able to protect national security without sacrificing the liberties of the individual. Once you lose those rights, it's very hard to get them back. There have been arguments made that if we just give up a few rights, it will be easier to preserve our national security. That should never, ever happen. When you take office, you take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. That is your first responsibility."
This is what Chuck Hagel did about civil liberties:
He voted for the Military Commissions Act that stripped legal residents and very possibly all United States citizens of habeas corpus rights, allowed for secret trials that do not conform to our military code of justice and let the president define torture. The worst bill for civil iberties in our lifetimes.
All Talk, No Vote Chuck Hagel will have to do a lot better than that to earn our trust back. We're listening, but we're also watching.