January 26, 2007

Gutting Hagel

I was bugged by Peggy Noonan's puff piece this morning on Sen. Chuck Hagel's speechifying about the non-binding anti-war resolution that passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee this week:

Whenever the camera shot broadened to show the other senators, I wondered what they were thinking. For a few it might have been, Well done, Chuck. For others, Hey, righteous indignation is my act. And some would have been thinking, That's good, ol' buddy, and no matter how long I have to wait, I'll get you for putting me on the spot, for making us look bad, for getting on your high horse and charging.

But Mr. Hagel said the most serious thing that has been said in Congress in a long time. This is what we're here for. This is why we're here, to decide, to think it through and take a stand, and if we can't do that, why don't we just leave and give someone else a chance?

Mr. Hagel has shown courage for a long time. He voted for the war resolution in 2002 but soon after began to question how it was being waged. This was before everyone did. He also stood against the war when that was a lonely place to be. Senate Democrats sat back and watched: If the war worked, they'd change the subject; and if it didn't, they'd hang it on President Bush. Republicans did their version of inaction; they supported the president until he was unpopular, and then peeled off. This is almost not to be criticized. It's what politicians do. But it's not what Mr. Hagel did. He had guts.

Over at the Corner, Kate O'Beirne remarks this afternoon on what exactly those "guts" of Sen. Hagel are actually worth:

The Senate has unanimously confirmed General Petraeus to take command of U.S. forces in Iraq to implement the new mission in Baghdad with the help of additional forces. Rather than back a non-binding resolution of disaproval, why didn't the gutsy Senators, like Chuck Hagel, who are riding the surf of public opinion opposed to the troop surge and taking on a president with approval ratings at the freezing level vote aginst General Petraeus' confirmation? Their convictions hold that he has endorsed a wholly unjustified escalation and will be leading troops on a futile mission. They want a role in the conduct of the war and with the need to win Senate confirmation of Gen. Petraeus the Constitution has given them one, but they have taken a pass. Because Gen. Petraeus is an experienced, credentialed, credible advocate of the new strategy, Senators have no interest in tangling with him. When you're playing at being a military strategist you sure don't want to go up against the real thing, so better to have an unpopular commander-in-chief be the face of the new mission rather than the veteran general who will be in command.

Advantage, O'Beirne. And Peggy? You might want to have that looked at.

YIPS from Steve-O: The owl of Minerva has indeed flown at dusk. Unfortunately for the Chuckster, it just crapped on the roof of his Sebring Convertible.

Posted by Robert at January 26, 2007 05:33 PM | TrackBack

Yeah, I'm pretty sick of Chuck Hagel's brand of courage.

Posted by: Rachel at January 26, 2007 05:50 PM

Is this what Dan Rather had in mind, in those days of yore, when, sweater-vested, he raised his eyes from the transcript of the CBS Evening News, and bravely exhorted, in his cryptic manner,


I think not.

I weep for my country.

Posted by: The Colossus at January 26, 2007 06:17 PM

Saw that one this morning. It seems like lately every third or fourth column Peggy goes off to the land of WTF? Could be a...cyclical thing, perhaps?

Posted by: Gary at January 26, 2007 06:52 PM

President Bush has made it pretty clear, he wants Gen Petraeous over there ASAP and the ass kicking to start pronto...

Posted by: KMR at January 26, 2007 07:29 PM

"Better put some ice on that" is the preferred recognition of a smack-down in conservative circles. If two women can do that sort of thing.

Posted by: Ralph L. at January 27, 2007 10:15 AM

Noonan is in serious decline as a writer.

"Mr. Hagel has shown courage for a long time. He voted for the war resolution in 2002 but soon after began to question how it was being waged."

How the resolution was being waged?

Everything she writes now has a child-like quality to it-as if she's writing about how pretty a blue sky is, instead of about Iraq.

Posted by: John Salmon at January 28, 2007 01:48 PM