Reality based Republicans

by Henry Farrell on January 29, 2005

I heard Chuck Hagel speak at the World Affairs Councils meeting in Washington DC yesterday (C-Span link “here”: ), and thought it was pretty interesting. The content was vague, as is typical for US politicians warming up for a run at President, but in tone. Hagel was very clearly setting out his stall as the anti-Bush on foreign policy issues. He began his talk by talking about the need to focus on the allies, then spoke of how US public diplomacy had “lost its way,” of how our experience in Iraq should give us pause about trying to impose democracy by force etc etc. Most interesting in the short term, he hinted at some openness to the idea of Senate hearings on the disaster in Iraq, speaking at length about how Senator William Fulbright had come in for enormous criticism from his own party for holding hearings on Vietnam back in the day, but had been vindicated over the longer run. In Hagel’s words, we “should not be party to a false consensus on Iraq, or any other issue.” I’ve no idea of whether anything will come of this – but Hagel seemed to me to be presenting a possible opening for Democrats and reality-based Republicans.



Brett Bellmore 01.29.05 at 6:05 pm

I suppose there’s always a slot for at least one Republican Senator who’s respected primarilly by Democrats… And McCain IS retiring soon, isn’t he? But Hagel should consider that the Democratic primary is likely to be contested in 2008, so relying on crossover votes to secure the nomination is likely to be even less successful for him, than it was for McCain.


Cranky Observer 01.29.05 at 7:20 pm

Is there any Republican out there with moderate views, particularly moderate views on international relations, who thinks he can actually get anywhere near the nomination? How exactly would he placate the evangelicals?



Amos 01.29.05 at 7:25 pm

Sure, Hagel can act like he’s the anti-Bush, but he was also one of the four lead senators that encouraged Bush to nix-Kyoto – the original anger-the-world Bush move.


otto 01.29.05 at 8:02 pm

In Hagel’s words, we “should not be party to a false consensus on Iraq, or any other issue.”

What other issues might Hagel think are prone to false consensus within the Republican party?
1. Budget deficits dont matter?
2. No action on global warming?
3. Israel made the Palestinians a “generous offer” at Camp David and Taba?
4. Military options shd be used to prevent Iran getting nukes?

Suggestions please.


Andrew Edwards 01.29.05 at 9:37 pm

If Hagel was a democrat, Drudge would be running “Hagel compares Iraq to Vietnam… DEVELOPING”. Instapundit would be calling him ‘unhinged’ within minutes.


Jim Henley 01.29.05 at 10:09 pm

Sure, Hagel can act like he’s the anti-Bush, but he was also one of the four lead senators that encouraged Bush to nix-Kyoto . . .

Okay, that’s TWO good things about Hagel. I’m sure there are more, as well.


John Isbell 01.29.05 at 10:51 pm

What about Iran? And Hersh’s piece?


KCinDC 01.30.05 at 12:32 am

Okay, that’s TWO good things about Hagel.

Well, there is the whole being-an-executive-of-the-company-whose- machines-counted-the-votes-in-the-election-he-won thing.


Assistant Village Idiot 01.30.05 at 1:37 am

Cranky, the evangelicals may be the heart of the Bush support on several issues, but foreign policy isn’t one of them.

Reality-based. This would be the reality base that thinks Bush stole the election? Or the reality base that thinks Bush is planning a draft? It’s hard to keep all these reality-based groups straight.


MQ 01.30.05 at 2:18 am

Hey, to the aptly named village idiot: reality has to do with the very evident consequences of Bush’s various Iraq fantasies. One of which is that the U.S. military is stretched to the breaking point. Forcing the Nat’l guard to serve on active duty for years beyond their enlisted terms *is* in effect a draft. Bush will do everything to avoid the more public draft-the-kids bit because it will hurt him too much politically. But if he continues this term along the road he has been then chances are high that he will indeed be forced to do it. (I think he’ll back down before that point, but we’ll see).

Other real consequences to your country that you can sneer away while you poke around among far-left conspiracy theorists: exploding debt that will hamper us for decades to come, soaring levels of hostility to the U.S., strengthening of anti-American forces in the Arab world, etc. Snicker away.


Jim Harrison 01.30.05 at 5:15 am

Republicans like Hagel have an awful lot to answer for. They know better, but they continue to support Bush as if their political futures or even the political future of the Republican party were as important as the future of the U.S. and the world.

It’s time for the rational members of the GOP to leave the party. There is no other honorable course. Of course they won’t leave, but then profound personal degradation is a natural concomitant of imperial politics. When Bush names the first horse to the senate, they’ll be on hand with a lump of sugar and a couple of carrot to congratulate their new colleague.


Doug 01.30.05 at 11:55 am

Well it sounds like a nice start. We’ve got four years to see if anything real comes of it. Quick guide for dealing with Bush-era Republicans: First verify, then trust.


Cranky Observer 01.30.05 at 12:02 pm

As you well know, the evangelicals have colonized the Republican party and are the key voting bloc that any candidate who wants to win the general election must capture.


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