Former Nebraska U.S. Senator, and one time VP prospect, Chuck Hagel says President Barack Obama took office at a time when this nation’s problems rivaled those encountered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Democrat who presided over the nation’s climb from the Great Depression and entry into World War II.
The first question I would ask anyone who drops the “it’s too early to judge President Obama” line of thought is how much of the mess Obama inherited did he vote for as a U.S. Senator? I would also ask them does George W. Bush deserve all of the blame for the mess that Obama inherited, or does Congress deserve 50% of the blame?
I realize that Chuck Hagel engages in politics as usual when it comes to Republicans, but does he think that Obama’s agenda (i.e. stimulus, Nationalized Health Care, and bailouts) are conducive to economic recovery? Hagel talked about the problems FDR inherited and linked them to the problems Obama has inherited. Some critics say that FDR’s agenda prolonged the depression unnecessarily, does he think Obama’s economic agenda will prolong this current recession, or does he think that given enough time these Keynesian theories will work? History has noted that Keynesian theories do not work, I would inform him, why would this moment in history be any different?
Hagel, who spoke to The World-Herald after giving a Veterans Day speech Thursday at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, called it too early to judge Obama’s presidency.
Some critics have stated that due to the fact that Obama has acted at an unprecedented pace in his first 20 months, we should probably judge his actions at the same pace. In other words, if Obama’s economic plans are unsuccessful it would probably be wise to gauge them and judge them now before it is too late.
If we are to follow Hagel’s request that we wait to judge Obama, a pertinent question to Hagel might be: did he extend the same courtesy to George W. Bush? I realize Bush is now in what Hagel considers the other party, but did he extend the same wait and see approach to Bush’s policies in Iraq? Supporters of Hagel might say that as a U.S. citizen, and as a sitting Senator, Hagel had every right to call Bush out on what he saw as a wrong-headed approach to the conflict in Iraq. Could the same be said of what Jim DeMint or John Boehner say when it comes to Obama, or should they wait to judge his actions?
Obama took over amid a “global financial crisis” and while the nation was at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hagel said.
The former GOP senator — who recently served as co-chairman of the Democratic president’s Intelligence Advisory Board — compared Obama’s first years in office to Roosevelt’s in the 1930s.
“You have to start with reality that this president inherited the biggest inventory of problems any president has inherited since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and (it) may have been worse than Roosevelt. Roosevelt didn’t inherit two wars,” said Hagel.
Hagel’s post-speech comments underscored his status as a “maverick” during his 12 years in the U.S. Senate. Hagel often earned the ire of members of his own party for his outspoken criticism of former President George W. Bush’s handling of the Iraq War.
Hagel did not comment on how much media attention he received while posing for “maverick” shots in the mainstream media. He did not comment on whether or not he made his views available to the media for the opportunities it afforded him, or because he felt so strongly about these views that he felt compelled to make them available to the media in multiple appearances. He did not answer these questions, because they were not posed to him. Hagel would probably say that he simply spoke his mind, and that that gained him the “maverick” status, but what would he do if the media turned against him as it did with the other “maverick” John McCain when McCain became the establishment Republican. The media didn’t fall in love with McCain, they just loved it when he spoke out against Republicans. Another “maverick” that spoke out against his party found out quite quickly that he was not considered a “maverick” by the media. He was considered a “pariah” for his stance. His name is Joe Lieberman. McCain has since learned that love from the media will only take you so far, and he has embraced more Republican principles since his drubbing.
I do not doubt that Hagel’s stance against the Iraq war was a principled one, but the question is would he have softened his stance against the Iraq War if he had become the establishment Republican and the media abandoned him in the manner they did McCain. We’ll never know the answer to that question, of course, as Hagel decided to wrap himself in the arms of another media darling Barack Obama. A move that leads to more questions than it answers for both parties. We have to wonder if this progression against the Republican party was as a result of soul searching, pursuit of media attention, and/or pursuit of personal, political progression. In other words, did Hagel learn more about himself in these last six to seven years, or have those of us who voted for him learned more about him.