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NE-Sen: How Chuck Hagel Could Be the Joe Lieberman of 2008

by: DaveSund

Mon Mar 26, 2007 at 2:00 AM EDT


(From the diaries. - promoted by James L.)

With Chuck Hagel once again saying that impeachment could be an option, it felt like the right time to visit this topic: What if Chuck Hagel does decide to run for re-election?

Let's say, tomorrow, a month from now, six months from now, Chuck Hagel wakes up, realizes that running for President is a fool's errand, and decides that he's going to just run to keep his presumably safe U.S. Senate seat.

He could be the Joe Lieberman of 2008.

Understand, of course, that this would be a "bizarro"-Joe Lieberman. Like Lieberman, he's a staple on the Sunday morning talk shows, advocating a war strategy that is diametrically opposed to his own party. But if you lined them up side-by-side, I doubt that you'd find many issues which they'd agree on. Their similarities begin and end with how they are reviled by the rank-and-file of their own party. And that's what I draw from here.

The anecdotal evidence is strong enough. Republicans don't like Chuck Hagel. There's a vocal group of Nebraska Republicans - they show up almost daily in the letters to the editor - who want to see him challenged. They may yet get their wish.

Ten days ago, Attorney General Jon Bruning announced his intention to run for Senate - should Hagel not seek reelection. But the Lincoln Journal Star's Don Walton sees a potential for Bruning's campaign to become a vehicle for an anti-Hagel movement, and I'm inclined to agree: 


Bruning launches his "ground game," identifying and organizing supporters across the state.

And he begins the rather challenging task of attempting to raise funds for a campaign he may never wage.

Hagel loyalists in the Republican ranks are going to hold tight, one would guess.

Bruning loyalists will step forward behind their man.

And what will Republicans who are angry with Hagel for opposing President Bush on Iraq do?

Judging by letters to the editor, telephone messages and anecdotal evidence, there are a lot of them out there.  They are upset, and they are energized.

Do the anti-Hagels put their hopes, and money, with Bruning?  Help him build a sturdy campaign vehicle?  Implore him to run?  Coalesce into their own organization, whether Bruning's a candidate or not?

So, just kind of picture this: Nebraska Republicans, increasingly upset at Hagel's continued criticisms of Bush, line up behind Bruning. Not elected Republicans, of course. The Nebraska Republican establishment will be firmly behind Hagel. Bruning, surprised by the enthusiasm of his supporters, preempts Hagel's late summer announcement by announcing that he will, indeed, run for Senate regardless of Hagel's intentions. Hagel decides to run, setting up a showdown in May of 2008.

There is one key difference, of course: if Hagel loses the Republican nomination, he can't run in the "Nebraska for Hagel" party. Nebraska law expressly forbids running for the same office after losing the primary.

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DaveSund :: NE-Sen: How Chuck Hagel Could Be the Joe Lieberman of 2008
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Another difference
Of course, even if he were able to run as a third-aprty candidate, the Democratic Party wouldn't abandon their own candidate and embrace Hagel, the way the Republicans abandoned Schlesinger and made Lieberman their guy.

I wonder
Lieberman and Hagel seem to be complete mirrors of each other, because on the one hand, you have Hagel, who's a fairly conservative Republican who has been vocal about opposing the war. Lieberman is a fairly liberal Democrat (though it pains me to say it, he's definitely one of the leaders on the environment in the senate) who has been vocal about his support of the war.

In both cases, each of their respective parties resent their views on the war and as such are not trusted by the other party, but are still not all that trusted by the opposing party because of their Conservative (Hagel) and Liberal (Lieberman) views on other issues (though, unlike Lieberman, I can't see Hagel running as an independent, even if he could).

The other thing about Hagel is, I'm not really getting the vibe that he even wants to run for office again, even for his Senate seat again.

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24, Male, Democrat, NM-01, Chairman of the Atheist Caucus, and Majority Leader of the "Going to Hell" caucus!


Interesting Point
I agree that Lieberman and Hagel are ideological mirror images of one another.  Here's something to think about, though-- perhaps Hagel is the Lieberman of 2008 in a different context than the one you laid out.  The GOP is desperately trying to cast off the weight of the Bush presidency and its major stumbling block-- the Iraq war-- in much the same way that the Democrats in 2000 were trying to distance themselves from Clinton's infidelity.  When Gore picked Lieberman for VP, the decision was due, in a large part, to Lieberman's Senate-floor denouncement of Clinton's behavior; by teaming up with Lieberman, Gore effectively re-branded himself as a non-Clintonite.  Of course, Bill Clinton was more popular then than GW Bush is now (because, let's face it, a blowjob is not tantamount to a war,) so Gore's decision (or, rather, his advisors' decision) was not the wisest. 

What does all of this have to do with Chuck Hagel?  Well, just as Lieberman was the only loud Democratic voice decrying Clinton's make-or-break issue, Hagel is the only major Republican to rail against Bush's war.  As such, whichever candidate nabs the GOP nomination next year may well choose Hagel for VP, as a means of putting space between himself and Bush. 

And, hey, if Hagel doesn't step aside in his own senate race in Nebraska while running on the national ticket, the analogy will be complete!


You know, I actually hadn't thought of the Hagel-for-VP move.
It's interesting.  The problem of course is that most of the major GOP candidates have problems on their right flank, and will need to pick a VP who reassures the rightwing base (ideally a rightwing governor who had nothing to do with the war).  McCain or Giuliani, at least, would need those credentials.  Fred Thompson is conservative enough on his own that he could get away with choosing Hagel, and that pairing would make both a very conservative and a very no-more-war-mistakes ticket.  Thompson-Hagel would be scary.

28, gay guy, Democrat, CA-08

[ Parent ]
Here is a scary thought
The 2008 Democratic Presidential Nominee- (Hillary Clinton campaigns as a Pragmatic Progressive- (Compassionate Conservative.

Hillary selects a runningmate who is a loyalist to the Clinton's served as a member of the Clinton cabinet. Is a former member of Congress- Served in a leadership position while a member of Congress. Currently is serving as a Governor in a battle ground state in a swing region.

McCain- The likely GOP nominee selects Hagel.

Hillary/Richardson ticket defeats McCain/Hagel.

Hagel runs for VP ticket and US Senate 2008 re-election the same time. He gets re-elected to the US Senate in 2008 defeating an obscure Democratic challenger- who later gets nailed and jailed in a child porn scandal.

Hagel becomes a key allie of the Hillary Clinton Adminstration especially on the Immigration issue- (Guest Worker/Amnesty- which angers rank and file GOPers in Nebraska.

Nebraska GOPs nominate a Conservative businessman to challenge Hagel in the primary in 2014. Hagel narrowly loses in 2014 but Hagel runs as an Independent on the Nebraska for Hagel Ticket. N for H wins due to strong support from Democrats.


Heh...
Yikes! So many things I don't want to happen in that scenario...

In all honesty though (yes, I know you were kidding :p ), I can't see any of the so-called moderates choosing Hagel as a running mate. If the war is so bad that no Republican can win without Hagel, they are lost anyway. I see it more likely that they'll choose a conservative governor - someone with no ties to the war, but strong social conservative stands.


[ Parent ]

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