For the Republican Party my choice is clear: Chuck Hagel. Watching Senator Hagel debate Senator Lieberman on Meet The Press, he was clear, commanding and authoritive arguing against military escalation in Iraq and for major new diplomacy throughout the region.
What was striking about Joe Lieberman was not only that he has been wrong on Iraq, for a longer time, than virtually anyone in America. The Lieberman position did not go beyond you are either for new escalation or you are for defeat. He offered no
military analysis, and no understanding of the need for diplomacy or strategy for counter-insurgency.
Senator Hagel was clear and commanding: Escalation is the most dangerous mistake since Vietnam. Our troops should be moved out of Baghdad, which would
reduce casualties and avoid a disastrously conceived mission and moved to the borders, to limit Iranian arms supplies into Iraq. Major new diplomatic initiatives are urgently needed, for Iraq and
her neighbors and for the broader goal of comprehensive Middle East Peace. The war should be deescalated, not escalated.
Senator Hagel comes from a political tradition in Nebraska that is politically independent with a political discourse that is respectful and serious. He has enormous respect from his fellow Senators in both parties.
Hagel is a war hero who believes in diplomacy, a Senator who believes in working with both parties and a leader who envisions an America that would again be a beacon of hope in the world. He returned from Vietnam as a lifetime advocate of veterans and was a brilliant business leader who succeeded the old fashioned way: he built a business.
This does not mean we agree with everything Senator Hagel does, I sure dont. I am very much a Democrat who looks forward to the emergence of a great Democratic nominee from the strong list of Democratic candidates stepping forward.
In our two party system,with our country so divided at home and so alienated from the world, we should hope that both parties choose their best leaders.
There has been talk that Chuck Hagel might not run for either President or for reelection as Senator. I hope that talk is wrong and if he is even considering that course would urge him instead to become a true political independent.
If Senator Hagel does run for President, he would runin the tradition of Ronald Reagan when he met with Mikhail Gorbachev. While we may disagree with much of what Reagan did, when he stood with Gorbachev he was roundly attacked by many of the neocons who bang the war drums for Iraq and now bang the war drums for Iran. Reagan believed in talking to enemies as well as friends. In this sense Hagel, not Bush or McCain, is the true heir to Reagan within the Republican Party.
Chuck Hagel knows better. He has seen war up close, knows death first hand, believes in diplomatic leadership, opposes unwise escalations, and comes from a political tradition in Nebraska of respect, independence and civility.
At this dangerous moment in American history, the Nation would be well served if both parties nominated candidates for President who would make us proud, bring us together, and restore our credibility and leadership in the world.
For the Democrats the campaign is young, but for the Republicans, the choice is clear: Chuck Hagel. The Senate is a better place because Senator Hagel is there. The Republicans would be a better party if Senator Hagel were their leader. Our country would be safer and stronger if both parties nominate candidates who aspire to bring our country together as President, commander in chief, and leader of the free world.